For a personal impression of life in Spain and Covid, InSpain.news asks Dr Jan Otto Landman to share his views on the State of Alarm. He lives and works in Spain (Costa del Sol), arriving more than 20 years ago. His medical practice is in Torremolinos.
This weekend, during the night from Saturday to Sunday at 0:00 am, the State of Alarm ended throughout Spain. In many Spanish cities it was very busy on the street around that time. It was sometimes more like New Years’ Eve. Excited, mostly young people, often without a mouth mask, which is still mandatory, and with bottles of booze. On the Costa del Sol it was also very busy in many places. In Málaga the terraces were full. For many here, the festive night came to an end with a blasting light show (spectacular thunderstorm) and subsequent rain.
Quickly to the next lockdown?
In addition to great revelry, there was also indignation about the massive exuberance. “So we will quickly go to the next lockdown” was stated by many. We will see whether in 2 to 3 weeks the infection figures will increase considerably. It would not surprise me if they were not so bad. It has already been shown that the transmission of virus in the open air is negligible; although this was not about partying crowds as seen in many Spanish city centres on the night from Saturday to Sunday. An interesting Fieldlab event, shall we say. Although the question is, of course, how many people continued to party indoors afterwards.
Relatively good statistics
With the exception of the first months of the corona crisis, when it was the second European country after Italy to be overwhelmed by the virus, Spain has done relatively well in the corona statistics for most of the time. A strong point of the policy has been that shops, terraces and schools reopened as soon as possible. This allowed normal life and the economy in Spain to continue relatively undisturbed for a long time.
The question now is whether the lifting of the State of Alarm and the weakening of many of the measures came too soon. After all, there are still many contagious people in Spain. The number of corona-related hospital admissions has decreased, and is now at a low rate of 7%. The number of deaths is also low and continues to decline.
These favourable figures can largely be explained by the fact that most of the elderly and vulnerable have now been vaccinated. But the number of infections, after a small increase a few weeks ago as a result of Semana Santa (Holy Week), also continues to fall. The figure for Spain (per 100,000 over the last 2 weeks) is 198.6. For comparison: United Kingdom 45 (50% vaccinated), Italy (just had a hard lockdown) 267, Germany 297, Belgium 380, France 477, the Netherlands 611 and Sweden 696.
Lifting State of Alarm justified
The answer to the above question is that the lifting of the State of Alarm is perfectly justified. It was agreed that restrictions would be imposed to protect the vulnerable and prevent hospitals from becoming overloaded. The vulnerable in Spain are protected (read: vaccinated) and the hospitals are functioning almost normally again. This means there is no longer any reason to limit people’s fundamental rights.
If things go wrong, but it does not look like it for the time being, measures can be imposed again. Like before Christmas, when things were going reasonably well in Spain. The measures were relaxed in order to at least give people the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones. After Christmas, the reins were temporarily tightened again because the number of infections increased due to all the fun. The human scale, it worked fine. It cannot be ruled out that the number of infections will increase again in the coming weeks due to the relaxation of the measures in Spain.
So what? As long as the number of hospital admissions and deaths remains low. In addition, the more young people become infected, the sooner we have achieved group immunity. Young people generally do not get very sick after an infection. Some get “Long Covid” but the figures on this are not very clear. Personally, I would avoid the risk of Long Covid, but now that the most vulnerable have been vaccinated, a young person has the right to decide whether or not he or she wants to take that risk. After all, the same young person may also consume extreme amounts of alcohol and cigarettes if he or she so chooses.
The lack of social contact is not healthy for young people either. In Spain we now live in the euphoria of the (partly) regained freedoms.The question is how the tourist season, which is so important for Spain, will go. Expectations are hopeful. We have seen the number of infections fall steadily for weeks; and it is expected this trend will continue towards the summer, just like last year. Then there will be very low rates of infection with a large part of the population being vaccinated or having acquired immunity because it has already gone through the infection. Spain is already considered a safe holiday destination by most tourists, but in the summer everything is expected to be even better!
Jan Otto Landman, MD, PhD