The Basque Country tightens restrictions to contain the rebound in COVID-19, which has returned the incidence to an orange alert just this Monday. There are more than 300 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days compared to 235 at the turn of the year. The main measures adopted by the health emergency crisis table (Labi) are provincial confinement -a measure that was adopted by the Government of Spain in the de-escalation and was harshly criticized by the Executive of Iñigo Urkullu- and an automatic system by which the municipalities on red alert (more than 500) would also be closed except for the already known exceptions in the labor, academic and similar fields. In them you will not be able to play sports either.
An outbreak of COVID-19 in the Leza hospital forces patients to be transferred to Txagorritxu, in Vitoria
In Euskadi, all the municipalities and their outer perimeter were kept confined until December 12. At that time mobility was allowed within the province and, from December 23, throughout the autonomous community. Now, in addition, there are no mobility exceptions for purchases or similar to neighboring municipalities.
It is a framework similar to the one that has been in operation in the hospitality industry since the reopening, which took place on December 12, just before Christmas. An automatic system was envisaged to keep it closed in those towns with more than 5,000 inhabitants on red alert and in the smaller towns with high incidence both in the town itself and in its region. The openings and closings are decided with the data of every Monday and every Thursday, as will now happen with confinements and with group sports. This Monday it was reported that 17 of the 251 municipalities of the autonomous community will not be able to have the hotel business open. They are Salvatierra-Agurain, Asparrena and San Millán in Álava; Amorebieta Etxano, Bermeo, Lekeitio, Ispaster and Mundaka in Bizkaia; and Andoain, Beasain, Lazkao, Villabona, Zumaia, Aizarnazabal, Eskoriatza, Olaberria and Zegama in Gipuzkoa, so they would be the potential affected by the new mobility control measures.
The measures will take effect on January 13 at midnight. However, as the first data review will be Thursday, it will not be until Friday when the first municipal lockdowns and the prohibition of sport are activated. In principle, the Minister of Health, Gotzone Sagardui, has indicated that the validity of these measures is twenty days. However, he has ensured that there is a “permanent” monitoring of epidemiological evolution to introduce changes at any time if necessary.
The Labi (an acronym in Euskara that is becoming more and more known) is a crisis table chaired by the Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, and which seats different advisers from the parties of the Government coalition, the mayors of the three capitals, to the general deputies of Álava, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa and to the delegate of the Government of Spain, Denis Itxaso. This Monday’s appointment has had as its background the loud protests of two hundred hoteliers, who chanted songs like “Less restrictions and more conditions.” When in November the general closure of bars and restaurants was decreed thousands of people have already been taken to the streets in three parallel demonstrations in Vitoria, Bilbao and Donostia.
On the contrary, given the social demands of recent weeks, school sport has partially recovered, which was active briefly in autumn but has been stopped since November while professional or individual sports activity is possible both in the street and in Public spaces. It will be in groups of six “non-variable” and “without use of changing rooms” only for training, since there will be no competition. There are other changes in the measures, such as a reduction to 40% of the capacity of shopping centers of more than 150 square meters and 60% in small ones.
Hospital occupancy and coronavirus transmissibility rise
These measures come on a day in which the Basque Health Service (Osakidetza) did not notify 560 new cases of coronavirus, 322 in Bizkaia, 166 in Gipuzkoa, 67 in Álava and five from other communities or without known residence. The general incidence rate is 305.40, orange alert. Only Bizkaia remains on yellow alert, although it is the territory in which the pandemic has grown the most since last week, 38% compared to the average 28% and 12% in Álava and 23% in Gipuzkoa. The upturn is clear and it also occurs in all age groups. 31.7% of cases are symptomatic at the time of positive. What is also on the rise is transmissibility. The R0 measures the cases caused by each positive and rises to 1.21 (1.31 in Bizkaia). That means that each infected person multiplies the virus to more than one person and that the pandemic spreads.
Regarding the hospital situation, there are 410 people hospitalized, compared to 323 on New Years. The average daily income has grown significantly and is 42 daily in the last week (the peak of the second wave reached 92). In the ICU there are 76 people in critical condition, five more than before the weekend and not counting possible deaths. In principle, an alert level 3 out of 5 is maintained in health centers.