June 18, 2021

The active sources of the fourth wave: 40 large cities of Madrid, Euskadi and Catalonia, above the maximum level of risk

Source: autonomous communities

* Information updated with the latest data available as of May 11.

Coronavirus infections have been declining for two weeks in Spain. The incidence already stands at 181 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days and leaves behind a fourth wave of COVID-19 that did not register the extreme figures of the previous ones. However, there are still localities where the risk of contagion is still very high. In 50 large cities, the current incidence is greater than 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the maximum threshold of contagion risk set by the Health traffic light. Of them, 40 are in Madrid, Euskadi and Catalonia.

Donostia and Irun (Guipuzkoa), Bilbao and Santurtzi (Bizkaia) and Colmenar Viejo (Madrid) are the big cities where the situation is most worrying: they all exceed 400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days. The Madrid municipality is also the only one of the five where new cases are increasing. On the other hand, some thirty cities, located mainly in the Valencian Community and the Canary Islands, already register low or very low risk incidence levels below 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The ranking is led by Alcoy (Alicante), Telde (Las Palmas), Mislata (Valencia), Gandía (Valencia) and San Bartolomé de Tirajana (Las Palmas), all below 20 incidence cases.

In total there are 82 large cities (more than 40,000 inhabitants) where the incidence exceeds the threshold of the “high” risk of contagion, above 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in two weeks. In the country as a whole, the situation is divided: half of the population lives in 1,600 municipalities where the incidence is above this threshold, while the other half lives in 6,500 municipalities that are already below. These are some of the results extracted from the analysis carried out by elDiario.es based on data from the Health Departments of 17 autonomous communities and the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. You can read more details about obtaining this data in the methodology.

Regarding the trend, confirmed cases of COVID-19 are decreasing 📉 in more than 1,000 municipalities where 58% of the Spanish population lives. They are rising 📈 in just over 500 where 15% of the population lives and they are in the plateau phase (they remain more or less the same as two weeks ago) in 156, where 13% live. The rest are very small municipalities where very few cases are registered – less than 5 every two weeks – or for which there is no information available – which represent 13% of the Spanish population.

The following graph shows the ranking of large municipalities (with more than 40,000 inhabitants) according to the number of confirmed cases in the last 14 days in relation to their population and also how the incidence has varied in the last two weeks compared to the previous two.

Heterogeneous data and absence of small municipalities

The map that opens this information shows the data of total confirmed COVID-19 cases, in 14 days and the trend of infections in each municipality of the autonomous communities that have published their contagion data in each locality: practically the entire territory to With the exception of the smaller municipalities of Castilla y León, Catalonia and Galicia, which do not break down the figures for the municipalities with fewer inhabitants.

The data for each municipality show the same variable: the number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus and for whom their place of residence has been identified. Most communities include the data of positives by PCR test, antigen test and some also add the cases confirmed by rapid antibody test. This medium, which has been collecting data by municipality since the end of March, calculates the trend of cases in each municipality by comparing the number of confirmed cases in the last two weeks with the infections detected in the previous two weeks.

It must be taken into account that the data from the communities are not always homogeneous with each other due to the type of tests they include, the dates on which their figures are updated or due to changes in the publication of the data in the same month. The update date of each community depends on each one of them: most keep their figures updated weekly but some are delayed when updating their figures.

In total, the figures collected add up to three million cases of coronavirus in which the municipality of residence of the infected person has been identified. Of the 17 autonomies analyzed, Madrid is the city with the most infected detected in a single municipality. However, the municipalities with the highest incidence rate (cases per 100,000 inhabitants) are small localities in which an outbreak can affect a larger proportion of the population.

Many municipalities do not appear as there is no data available and some communities do not publish the total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the epidemic. It should be borne in mind that the number of cases is closely related to the ability of health authorities to detect them. That is, the more tests or analyzes performed, the more cases detected. How many confirmed cases are there in each municipality and how is the current incidence in your locality? Check it out in the following table.

Several communities initially refused to publish data by municipality to avoid the social stigmatization of small municipalities with many infected. This is the case of the Autonomous Government of La Rioja, which initially was not going to publish data by locality and now publishes it for all municipalities.

The Balearic Islands initially refused to share their data, although in the end they published them. Extremadura, under the same criteria, initially only published 8 most populated municipalities in the region. Now it publishes the figures even by local entities, villages and districts. Castilla y León is only publishing its figures for municipalities with more than 1,000 inhabitants and Castilla-La Mancha those with more than 500 inhabitants. These are not the only cases, practically half of the regions refused to publish their figures, arguing that they wanted to avoid the stigmatization of specific municipalities. Today, they all publish their data on COVID-19 cases by municipality.

Galicia has been the last to publish the figures by municipality, which has added to its COVID-19 data portal almost 6 months since the start of the epidemic. The Galician community does not publish the figures for the municipalities that have registered between one and nine cases in the last 14 days. Now all the autonomies publish the figures broken down by locality on their transparency portals, open data web or official pages with the situation of COVID-19.

Precisely, these data are essential to combat an epidemic: they make it possible to detect sources of contagion and act accordingly, provide more information to local administrations and regional governments of neighboring communities, and facilitate the analysis of the impact of the epidemic.

This analysis makes it possible to verify in which areas there is a higher incidence rate based on variables such as average income, percentage of the population over 65 years of age or population density. Precisely, from all administrations hundreds of statistics are published broken down by municipality: population by age, country of birth, nationality, average income, registered unemployment data, educational level or mortality rates.

Countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom or the United States publish their data on confirmed cases at the district, local authority and county level, an administrative level similar to a municipality in Spain.


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