The covid advances worryingly in Catalonia. While the vaccination process begins to take pace, the number of positive cases has not stopped increasing: it has gone from 13,700 new cases per week to 19,000, registered between December 29 and January 4, with peaks of more than 4,000 daily infections. In addition, in seven days the cumulative incidence has also increased (from 368 to 437 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) and the percentage of tests that are positive has doubled: from 6% to 10%, considering the WHO recommends being below 5%. "This positivity indicates that we do not have the pandemic under control, because we have more cases than those we are diagnosing", Daniel López Codina, a researcher from the Biocom group at the UPC, warns, who calculates that if the rate of contagion continues as it has until to now, by the end of the month the threshold of 600 critical beds occupied by covid patients will be reached and hospitals will have to suspend ordinary activities, as it happened in March.
One of the few indicators that are moving in a positive direction is the number of people who have received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. After criticism regarding the slow vaccination pace of the first few days, it has started to accelerate this week. While only 14 people were vaccinated on Sunday, January 3, the number has grown exponentially since then: 2,800 on Monday, 10,902 on Wednesday and 12,500 on Thursday. In total, between December 27 and January 7, 37,114 people were injected with a dose, of which 17,701 were residential users and the rest were health workers.
To try to stop the increase in infections, this week the government has begun to apply more restrictions, such as municipal lockdown. The measures, however, will not be noticed for another fourteen days, and during this time contagion will continue to increase, López Codina warns. "Since December 6, we have been growing. At least it is linear growth, but positive cases continue to increase, as do hospitalizations and the occupation of ICU beds".
More covid patients in ICUs
In one week, 20% more patients have been admitted with covid (from 2,049 to 2,496) and, for the first time since the beginning of the second wave, there are more patients with coronavirus in the ICUs than with other pathologies: 429 compared to 413. "We are subjecting the health system to very significant pressure at all levels: in primary care, in hospitals, in the ICUs", the expert regrets.
Given these figures, the researcher also notes two possible threats that could increase the incidence of the virus: "Restrictions come late, and the British variant could increase the speed of contagion". Codina emphasizes that one must be very attentive to any acceleration in the spread of the virus that the data of the next 15 days shows. "And if we see it accelerating, we have to react as soon as possible, even though there are few measures left to apply other than total lockdown", he admits. Currently the R number is 1.46: every 100 new positive cases infect 146 more.
The two counties that continue to be most affected are the Cerdanya and the Ripollès. In the territory of Cerdanya infections have increased again, after a slight reduction last week. On 22 December the perimeter lockdown was applied and that week cases were reduced from 237 to 164, but between 29 December and 4 January they have again risen to 170 positives: the vast majority, 108, in Puigcerdà, followed by Llívia, Bellver and Alp.
As for the Ripollès, the positive evolution continues: if we analyze the new data, weekly infections have gone from 167 to 162, detected during the week of December 29 to January 4. The majority, 84, are in Ripoll, but the incidence recorded in Ribes de Freser is worrying, which in seven days has gone from 3 to 16 new infections. Campdevànol and Sant Joan de les Abadesses are still on the rise, with 22 positive cases each during last week.
El Bages doubles the number of cases
The Cerdanya is the region with the highest incidence in Catalonia -1,907 cases per 100,000 inhabitants-, followed by the Ripollès (1,360). They are well above Conca de Barberà (832), Pla d'Urgell (662) and Bages (630), which follow with high incidences. The growth of this last region is especially worrying. Between December 28th and January 4th, 603 positives have been detected in Bages, twice as many as three weeks ago. The vast majority, 274, have been detected in Manresa, but all towns have recorded between 17 and 42 new cases in the last seven days.