Spain Sees 500% increase in demand for COVID tests, cases despite high vaccination rates

Spain is returning to a high-risk area for COVID-19 after a sharp increase in Omicron cases despite high vaccination rates. Many are looking for at-home COVID-19 tests, but the nation is running out.

The Spanish Ministry of Health said that new infections from the Omicron variant increased from 5% to 47% in just one week. In the past two weeks, there were more than 600 cases per 100,000 people.

Demand for at-home COVD-19 tests grew 500 percent in November, the Official University of Pharmacy of Madrid told the Associated Press.

Prices for at-home COVID-19 antigen tests are rising and there aren’t enough tests available to people who want them. Some pharmacies don’t test at all, and when they receive the shipment, they’ll be quick.

“It’s really disappointing,” said Eulalia Rodríguez, who is looking for tests. “At least they give you some peace of mind.”

Catalonia reports COVID-19 patients are occupying at least 30% of beds in the intensive care unit.

“Infections have increased by 100% in the past week,” said Joseph Argimon, regional health director for Catalonia.

The Spanish Association of Pulmonologists said: “The increase in the diagnosis of new cases in clinics and hospitals … in the short and medium term could lead to a new collapse of the system. health system,” Spain’s association of pulmonologists said last week.

How to get Covid-19 tests at home
The Madrid College of Pharmacy officially told the Associated Press that the demand for COVID home testing in November increased by 500% in a month. Above, file photo of a woman taking a COVID test at home.
stefanamer / Getty Images

The country had hoped to rely on the willingness of 80% of its entire population of 47 million (90% of those over 12 years old) to line up for the vaccine in low to high doses and for widespread use. face mask. Christmas looks a lot more like 2019 than it did last year.

But the extremely rapid spread of the Omicron variant to Spain less than a month ago is starting to put pressure on hospitals, although experts agree that vaccination still significantly reduces the risk. seriously ill.

Catalonia, home to the northeastern city of Barcelona, ​​is poised to become the first Spanish region to reinstate severe restrictions and ease holiday cheer. One in four people hospitalized in Spain with COVID-19 is in Catalonia.

“We were all hoping to spend these Christmas holidays with our family and loved ones, but unfortunately we are not in that situation,” said Catalan regional president Pere Aragonès. Tuesday. “You don’t have to look at the numbers. We all know people who have been infected.”

Catalan health authorities have asked the court to authorize a series of measures including a new nightly curfew from 1-6 a.m., a limit of 10 people per social gathering, the closure of clubs nightclubs and limit restaurants to 50% indoor seating and shops, gyms and theaters to 70% capacity. If passed, the rules would go into effect on Christmas Eve and last for 15 days, thus wiping out New Year’s parties as well.

“These steps are absolutely necessary,” says Argimon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Santa Run, Spain, COVID-19
Spain is returning to a high-risk area for COVID-19 after a sharp increase in Omicron cases despite high vaccination rates. Above, people dressed as Santa Claus and wearing masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus take part in a morning jog in Madrid on December 19, 2021.
Paul White / AP Photo

https://www.newsweek.com/spain-sees-500-percent-increase-demand-covid-tests-cases-despite-high-vaccine-rate-1661734 Spain Sees 500% increase in demand for COVID tests, cases despite high vaccination rates

Ethan Gach

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