Blue Monday: New restrictions come into force as latest COVID data is assessed




Latest COVID data in Aragón make for some interesting reading, especially for the education sector. In the past seven days Aragón has registered almost 400 new positive cases in children from 1 to 14 years old. Experts continue in near unanimous assurance that the risks to children is almost zero unless there are underlying existing complications.


The trends still show the overwhelming majority of all COVID cases in Aragón are to be found in the Zaragoza region. and despite the relative safety of children and new borns this sustained figures of infection are raising increasing concerns about the impending return to school.


Aragonese health care currently report 527 beds occupied by Coronavirus cases or suspect cases, only 60 of these are currently requiring ICU care. The numbers report that 45% of cases are asymptomatic and hospitals are running at 50% capacity.


Experts have also suggested the Aragón region has probably doubled the percentage of population who have achieved COVID19 antibodies, the numbers are still a long way short of anything that an be considered herd immunity. The seroprevalence testing carried out by the Spanish government earlier in the year revealed population "immunity rates" in the Zaragoza region of 4.7%, Teruel 4.9% and Huesca 5%. Projections now demonstrate those numbers to be between 14% and 10% in Zaragoza, 9-10% in Huesca and 5-6% in Teruel.


The very low level of movement in Teruel is considered to be due to the reason outbreaks have been limited in nature, on specific regions or even buildings, whilst Zaragoza data is probably more nuanced with certain neighbourhoods experiencing higher rates than others. The next wave of testing will take place through September and October.


To even begin to approach a potential herd immunity status, we would hope to see antibodies in a minimum of 70% of the population. Such a target takes a series of years to achieve so the relative low increases in just a short space of a few months should not be seen as disheartening.


The increase in cases in countries with drastic lockdown policies compared to those that did not follow such a policy have raised some concerns about the methods employed to combat COVID. Sweden, a country that came under heavy criticism and provided with dire predictions for not entering a lockdown has a noticeable lower death rate than countries such as Spain, the UK and Italy, The Scandinavian country has reported a decline in cases of up to 50% whereas Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and Holland have been experiencing increases ranging from 50% to beyond 200%. There are clearly a legion of factors that could be in play for these different numbers, but when second quarter GDP in Sweden declined by 8.6% compared to the 18.5% in Spain and 20.4% in the UK perhaps we can learn something from the Swedish experience. Less economic decline, less cases, less deaths, less restrictions.


Speaking of restrictions, those new measures announced late last week have taken affect here in Spain. Smoking in public open spaces in Aragón, as across all Spain, is now not permitted if social distancing of two metres cannot be maintained. This includes vaping, water and Hookah pipes. Consumption of alcohol on the streets has also been declared subject to sanction.


Further measures announced for immediate nationwide implementation include:


Discos, dance halls and cocktail bars all to be temporarily closed


Hotels and restaurants need to guarantee at least 1.5m between people/tables.

All venues must be closed by 1am and no new patrons after 12. Mass events and activities to undergo risk assessment from health authorities.

Social health centres or elderly residences must undertake PCR swab tests on new entrants and returning staff. Visits limited to one person per day.

Obligation to PCR screen in outbreak areas. This could apply to certain neighbourhoods or buildings related to an outbreak.

People are recommended to keep social interaction limited to stable existing social/living groups and maximum of 10 people.

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