Spain’s Covid incidence rate reaches ‘extreme risk’ levels

Spain’s coronavirus incidence rate has risen to high-risk levels, reports El País.

Spain's Covid incidence rate reaches 'extreme risk' levels
Image: Oscar del Pozo / AFP

On Wednesday, December 23, the Spanish Health Ministry released a new report stating that the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Spain now stands at 253.7.

This number is above the 250-threshold, which the Health Ministry classifies as ‘extreme risk’. This is the highest figure Spain has recorded since November 30. According to the report, 12,386 new coronavirus cases were recorded and there were new 178 deaths. 

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday December 23, Health Minister Salvador Illa said: “We are very worried, and we are heading into the holidays, when there is an increase of mobility and social contact,”. Illa continued by asking the public to be “extremely prudent” over the Christmas holidays.

Many regions across Spain have put strict restrictions in place in a bid to stop the further spread of the virus over the holidays.

Read Also: Spain's Christmas coronavirus restrictions in each region 

According to the report, the Balearic Islands have the highest incidence rate in Spain, with the 14-day cumulative number per 100,000 inhabitants at 455. This is followed by Madrid (361), Valencia (346), Extremadura (337), Castilla y León (305) and Catalonia (301).

On the other side, the regions with the lowest incidence rates are the Canary Islands, Asturias, Andalusia, Murcia and Cantabria.

Spain’s incidence rate has been rising since December 9. Currently there are 11,328 Covid-19 hospitalised with the virus. Of this, 1,932 are in intensive care units (ICUs), occupying 20.2% of all ICU beds.

The Health Ministry, believes that the pressure on hospitals is likely to increase, however due to the rise in cases and incidence rates.

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Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.”