Spain reaches 100,000 covid deaths

Spanish government disregards Catalonia's demands and maintains compulsory use of face masks indoors

2 min
A solitary mask in a schoolyard.

Santa Coloma de GramenetSpain has surpassed 100,000 deaths due to coronavirus this Tuesday. Since the pandemic broke out two years ago, 100,037 people have died, 18,179 of whom lived in Catalonia. Updated data from the Spanish Ministry of Health indicate that just over 11 million positives have been detected, although this figure is much lower than the real figure since cases were underdetected for months and now, after the drop in cases, contacts are no longer being followed up.

In a press conference after the inter-territorial council, the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, pointed out that the latest epidemiological data confirms the drop in the incidence of covid and said that experts were confident that "the worst" of the sixth wave, characterised by the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, is over. At this council, the ministry and regional governments debated proposals for masks no longer to be compulsory indoors. It is, in fact, the only restriction that remains from the pandemic, but at the end there was no decision and the restriction was not lifted. "The pandemic has taught us that it is together that we make progress", said the Minister of Health, responding to the Catalan Health epartment's proposal to eliminate masks in schools.

Although the Spanish government does not dare to set a date for the elimination of masks indoors, President Pedro Sánchez admits that it will come "very soon". The majority opinion among experts and health authorities is that the measure should be maintained at least until the end of winter –around April–, taking into account coronavirus's seasonality. Therefore, the most prudent timetable for the measure to lapse would be shortly before Easter.

The only exception would be schools. However, as case numbers drop, paediatricians have called for mask mandates to disappear from schools "as soon as possible" for psycho-pedagogical reasons. The measure has divided the Covid expert advisory committee, because not all members are in favour of the change in the short term and ask masks are still worn indoors until the end of winter, on March 20.

Even so, the Generalitat is in favour of lifting the mandate in schools because children are not a risk group and it would be the best place to gauge the impact that the change may have, albeit on a small scale, should the mandate then be lifted for the population at large. Catalan Health minister Josep Maria Argimon has defended several times that classrooms have to be the first place where masks are eliminated, although he believes it should be done gradually, starting with the youngest before reaching teenagers (ESO, high school and vocational training).