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Hospitals Report A Spike in Respiratory Cases


The Department of Health in Spain warned that the country is in the midst of an Acute Respiratory Incidents (ARI) wave, and far from subsiding, anticipates an increase next week. The current incidence rate of respiratory illnesses is 1,318.7 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, lower than the previous week. However, immunology experts at the Department of Health point to an increase next week.

Health Minister Marciano Gómez acknowledges that public hospitals are under strain due to the “seasonal” peak of flu and COVID infections but are operating normally. The hospital case rate has risen from 37.3 to 42.9 this week, with forecasts indicating further increases in the coming days. Gómez acknowledges increased tension but assures there is no collapse, similar to last year.

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Authorities have initiated measures in response. Firstly, they have “reprogrammed” scheduled but not suspended surgeries. Secondly, a special vaccination plan without appointments has been launched in public centers starting this Monday.

In response, the Department’s call to the population has yielded initial effects. From January 5th to January 8th, the number of vaccinated individuals has nearly tripled. In three days, 22,693 doses have been administered, with 8,165 in the province of Alicante.

Return to ‘vaccinodromes’ for the next campaign?

Health Minister Marciano Gómez does not rule out reopening ‘vaccinodromes’ at the start of the next campaign to prevent situations like the current one in hospitals. He emphasizes the need to learn from the current situation and take measures to avoid repetition.

The Valencian government now mandates wearing masks in health centers and hospitals to “ease” the current situation. Departmental heads have the “freedom” to implement measures based on each department’s incidence.

The Department’s current strategy focuses on mass vaccination. The increased incidence this year has already led to more people being immunized than in the previous campaign. Gómez reassures the population, stating they are “adequately supplied.”

Currently, the Valencian government is reluctant to entertain the Ministry of Health’s three-day ‘self-reduction’ proposal. Gómez believes the issue is “premature” and emphasizes the need to “listen to all involved parties such as businesses, insurers, medical societies…” before deciding. He insists that such decisions should be supported by dialogue and technical bodies.

Masks in pharmacies: “step by step”

Regarding the possibility of reinstating mandatory mask-wearing in Valencian pharmacies, the Minister advocates for a cautious approach and defends its imposition in healthcare settings due to the presence of vulnerable individuals.

In general, he criticizes the Ministry for convening the Interterritorial without prior reports from the Alerts Committee or the Public Health Commission, emphasizing that “any decision aimed at improving health must be based on experts.”

In terms of personnel, Gómez reiterates the demand for the Ministry to increase specialized training positions, noting “real problems” in covering vacations or absences in the Valencian Community.

Read more: Spanish Health Minister Proposes Reintroduction of Face Masks


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