The Balearics end the second year of the pandemic with the highest number of infections since March 2020 and the irruption of the omicron variant since mid-December. According to data from the Health Department, there are more than 21,000 people with COVID-19, which represents 150% more than the 8,414 counted at the end of last year. However, there are fewer hospitalisations. Specifically, the number of people admitted to hospital is 28% lower than a year ago.
On Thursday there were 243 patients admitted to wards, the same number as the previous day, and another 61 were in a critical care bed, so that ICU occupancy, at 17.89%, remains at high risk. In total, 304 people were hospitalised, representing 1.4 % of the total number of infected patients. In contrast, a year earlier, 5% of people with coronavirus were in hospital.
The health authorities attribute this change in trend to the effect of the COVID-19 vaccination. While at the end of 2020 the campaign was in its initial phase, today 82.41 % of the population over 5 years of age is fully vaccinated. In addition, the inoculation of booster doses and pediatric vaccination is progressing. So far only children between 9 and 11 years of age are vaccinated, although next week appointments will be opened for children from 5 years of age. People under 50 years of age who had the AstraZeneca jab will also be able to request the booster dose. At the moment, inoculations are being given to those over 50 years of age, to healthcare and social-healthcare personnel, and to all those who received the Janssen single-dose vaccine.
So although 2021 closes with record numbers of infections, the current situation is very different to that of a year ago. Back then, restrictions were the order of the day and social activity was minimal. To date, the main measure that prevails in the Balearics is the obligation to present the COVID passport to access premises and establishments where there is a high concentration of people and the use of facemasks. In addition, popular barbecues of the Sant Antoni and Sant Sebastià fiestas have been prohibited.
The new measures to curb the spread of the virus, as well as the explosion of infections in the last fortnight, are due to the irruption of the omicron variant, which was detected for the first time at the end of November in South Africa. Although this new strain has led to record daily positive numbers in the Balearics - where 3,000 cases were reported yesterday - and in the rest of the world, it has also led to a change of scenario in the management of the pandemic. The reason is that the symptomatology is less severe. As for the number of deaths from COVID-19, two deaths were reported yesterday, bringing to 1,068 the number of people who have lost their lives to the pandemic. January and February of this year were the months with the highest number of deaths, 267 in total.