With nearly 80% of its population vaccinated and a booster programme gathering pace, Spain was largely spared the rampant wave of infections that led several northern European countries to toughen curbs in the autumn.
But the arrival of Omicron has sent numbers skyrocketing, with a record of nearly 50,000 new infections on Tuesday, though hospital admissions and intensive-care cases remain fairly low compared to previous COVID-19 waves.
"Don't worry, families will be able to celebrate Christmas," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told parliament.
"Spain has resisted, it has not given up and it is moving forward."
Omicron accounts for some 47% of total Spanish infections, according to data released on Tuesday, soaring from just 3% the week before.
Sanchez called a meeting of regional leaders, responsible for their own health policy under Spain's highly devolved administrative system, in an effort to set a coordinated approach to tackling the surge.
However, stark political differences between them makes a national-level accord on anything but the most basic restrictions unlikely.
In Catalonia, where intensive-care occupation is double the national average at 30%, the left-wing administration ordered the closure of night clubs, set limits on groups and sought court approval for a night curfew - the toughest measure available without a national state of emergency.
By contrast, Madrid's leader, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who won a landslide election in spring after promising light-touch restrictions, has vowed to keep the hospitality sector open whatever happens.
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Juan, to answer your question I do not know how long it would take for natural immunity to run its course. However, I can take an educated guess if we take the case of SA and Omicron. Based on the data it would appear that from the onset of the variant to passing the peak and the majority of the population developing natural immunity it is about a 4 week cycle. Now if we take into account that SA was locked down for at least a good 9 months since March 2021, then it is not a stretch to assume that had their been no restrictions and the virus allowed to run its natural course we could have been in the current end state as early as Q3 or Q4 2020 which is just about the time the experimental vaccines were introduced. Otherwise put all the 2021 deaths could have been potentially avoided.
Vagrant- You are asking if we needed a Lockdown last year, and if we would have been in the same situation without iit? Have you any idea how long natural immunity would take to run is lt's course, and how many people would have to die in the meantime? Do you not remember how many cases were reduced worldwide and how life was getting back to normal before this new strain and extra booster was required (as with nearly all vaccines anyway)?
Now all Varant and Dan have to do is convince James that he needs to be as tolerant and understanding as you guys are being. Well done.
Dan, thanks for the clarification and I have to admit that I never looked at my name as you have pointed out but agree that it is quite anectodal (especially in the current climate) the way you put it so no apologies needed really. As for the other points, we can agree to disagree and continue to have differing points of view. This is what a healthy society is supposed to be based on; inclusive of all points of view no matter how diametrically opposed as they may be. We just need the debate as it is healthy and stimulating and as long as we all respect each others’ rights to opinions and choices then we will be OK.
Apologies Varant - I found it amusing that your name was 1 letter away from spelling Variant which was what the focus of my comment was about. I disagree with you on the central point - I think the route they've taken is the right one to try and limit deaths. If we went with your suggestion, whilst the virus may eventually wane out or we would establish immunity, it would be at too great a cost in terms of lives lost. But if that's the case, it's a difference of opinion on actions rather than a lack of understanding on either side. Would argue the vaccines aren't experimental as they do what they're meant to.
Dear Dan, I may not be an epidemiologist but I happen to be an aerospace engineer so I do have a reasonable understanding of numbers and facts. Furthermore, I am at a loss with regards to your comment regarding my name. What does a name have to do with anything? For your education, Varant is an Armenian name and Armenia was the first country to recognise Christianity as the official state religion in 301 AD. On my side, I am not religious at all and as such couldn’t care less about peoples’ religious beliefs as long as they don’t infringe on the freedoms and rights of society as a whole. Furthermore, I have had the good fortune to work and live in several countries across the world including the UK so I am pretty well integrated with ‘your’ culture. The points you make are not without merit. Viruses do evolve and I understand that governments had to be seen as doing something so they all jumped on the band wagon. But the fact of the matter is that they got it wrong. And this again because they tried to mess with nature and tries to block the natural evolution of the virus with experimental vaccines. By now the facts and evidence clearly point that this was a flawed strategy but given the uncertainty I could potentially understand that. What I do not and understand however is the insistance of pursuing a path that has led to no outcome and doubling down on it and now trying to impose the experimental vaccines even on our kids. This is a clear sign of desperation if you ask me and a very dangerous one at that. Time will tell, but in my humble opinion they have lost the plot a long time ago…
Varant - The irony that you don't seem to understand how variants can evolve and pose new problems is clearly lost on you given your name. The UK alone reported over 100k cases today. And has shown that it can evade previous vaccines and natural immunity. This isn't difficult, although obviously it's too much for the likes of James to understand so they'd rather believe it's one big conspiracy. Hospitals are already seeing an increase in hospitalisation. If omicron continued spreading as fast as it has done (it's spread throughout the UK population at almost three times the speed of previous variants) then even though it's not as lethal to most who catch it, the sheer number of those who would be infected at the same time would mean more people would end up in hospital, even if said number is a lower % of those infected than in previous waves. Nobody suggested the vaccine would cure everything and if you truly believed that, then you're an idiot. Viruses evolve. What we're doing now is literally the thing that people like you spent 12 months screaming for - we're learning to live with the virus. And that includes booster jabs, it includes masks, and it includes having to respond quickly and decisively when new variants emerge until we've been able to analyse them and understand the risks.
Peter: “trying” is the operative word. It didn’t work, did it ?
The world truly has gone mad. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Mask don't work, booster shots, don't work, lockdowns don't work. Idiots
Fred, I don’t know you and you don’t know me but if you want to call me a moron for having an opinion then that is fine. Last time I checked we all had the right to have an opinion and express it, although I understand that now things are different. As a moron, I am having a difficult time understanding how the sacrifices imposed on our society were justified by looking at the current situation and comparing it to last year this time; more cases than ever, similar restrictions as last year and more people in hospitals and ICUs; only difference being that 80+% are now vaccinated as compared to last year. So maybe a non-moron can explain it to a moron like myself. Peter, you make a great point about trying to save lives. So let us just imagine for a second that the restrictions weren’t imposed as of March 2020 and the virus was left to run its natural course and Omicron emerged in June of July last year for arguments sake…how many lives would have been saved? And I am not even considering the permanent damage that has been done to those who have died or experiences permanent damage from the experimental drugs forced on them.