Balearic health ministry figures for the week November 22 to 26 show that there were 237 positive cases of coronavirus among schoolchildren, the highest figure since the beginning of the school year and 75 more than in the previous week - 97% were pupils below 12 years old who have therefore not been vaccinated. The number of infected teachers increased to 19, almost double the number in the previous week.
The health minister, Patricia Gómez, says that her ministry and the education ministry will be simplifying protocols. This is partly due to the increase in infections and also to harmonise criteria. In Minorca, quarantines of 14 days have been applied, whereas these are ten days on the other islands. Close contacts of positive cases under 12 must quarantine even if they are negative for coronavirus; this is because they are not vaccinated. This is leading to a daily increase in the number of pupils and even entire classrooms of pupils having to isolate.
One measure under consideration is antigen tests for close contacts instead of PCRs. As the results are much quicker, these would limit confinement periods. "We want the procedures to be as simple as possible," stresses Gómez, who acknowledges that there is community transmission in schools.