Spain facing the dilemma of having to confine citizens again


It is the country that shows “the worst statistics in Europe in the incidence of covid-19”. Spain already has around 716.5 thousand infected and 31.2 thousand deaths – and it has reached a point where returning to confinement at home “is a very real and close possibility”, according to this Monday the newspaper “El País” “.

Spain currently has 500 cases of infection per 100,000 inhabitants, when Harvard University sets the bar at 350 to start adopting measures to restrict citizens’ mobility, the newspaper also recalls.

Since restrictions were lifted in Spain on 21 June following the first outbreak, and Pedro Sánchez declared that it was possible to “defeat the virus and control the pandemic”, the country’s return to the so-called new normal “is the story of a failure “, according to the Spanish newspaper.

Despite the lifting of restrictions on 21 June, Spain had to adopt pandemic control measures in July in a number of regions – measures that hardened across the country on 18 August “and are gradually gaining ground in more and more areas “, notes the daily” El País “.

The most paradigmatic case is Madrid, “which reached phase two, promising an epidemiological surveillance capacity that it never fulfilled, and from there it jumped to a new normality by precipitously ending the state of alarm before all the autonomous regions resorted to the path initially traced.

Experts contacted by the Spanish newspaper agree that the return to economic activity with the pandemic was a hasty process in Spain.

“The new normalcy was something else. What we experienced was just a quick slowdown without doing our homework,” says Miguel Hernán, professor and epidemiologist at Harvard University.

According to Miguel Hernán, four conditions would be necessary for Spain to return to the new normal with the pandemic – and none of them were fulfilled. At the head, the autonomous communities should assume the reinforcement of capacities for assistance, diagnosis and screening of the disease, as well as isolation and quarantine procedures, in addition to the Spanish Government must define “transparent and harmonized epidemiological indicators to facilitate coordinated actions”.

There should also have been a deconfination plan, bringing together experts in health and economics, to ´repair “a sustainable economic activity with scientific knowledge of the coronavirus”, along with a “continuous process of decision making on openings or closings based on data on the epidemiology related to the previous three weeks “, defends Miguel Hernán.

From the perspective of Miquel Porta, a full professor of epidemiology and public health, the system of health surveillance services in the country “works as it did in the 19th century” and the country’s failure to return to new normality “is not even a problem for politicians, but from the state apparatus “.

The fact that the country faced a violent first outbreak of the virus in the spring, is already experiencing a second outbreak and is lined up for a third outbreak, also reveals, according to the newspaper, basic failures of primary health care, such as the lack of sufficient screening processes.

But it is also explained by the “behavior of the citizens”, who did not give up “nighttime leisure” or of some companies that did not have “enough dedication to protect workers”. All in all, “it results in a cocktail that is leaving an extreme hangover in the form of restrictions”.

“While the virus is among us, we must have three things clear: primary care reinforced at all times, trackers in the recommended number, with or without cases, and thirdly, the population should live with distance rules, and avoid encounters indoors, even if the incidence rate is low “, says Rafael Bengoa, one of the most respected public health experts in Spain.


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