March 3, 2021

The fall of the third wave accelerates: 44% of large cities reduce the incidence to less than half in February

The fall of the third wave accelerates: 44% of large cities reduce the incidence to less than half in February

* Information updated with the latest data available as of February 16

The curve of the third wave in Spain descends very quickly after having reached the peak 3 weeks ago. Two out of five large cities and more than 2,300 municipalities have reduced the incidence to less than half in the last two weeks. A decrease in infections that is repeated in practically the entire territory: 9 out of 10 Spaniards live in municipalities where cases are decreasing. Despite this generalized drop in the transmission of the virus, the record levels reached in January still affect 1 in 3 people who reside in towns with incidences above 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days.

The proof of the reduction of the contagion curve in all communities is in the decrease in the number of municipalities in the most extreme risk levels. Above the threshold of 1,000 cases (1% of the population is infected every two weeks), there are only 391 locations left. Among them, the cities of Talavera de la Reina, Palencia and Collado Villalba that right now lead the ranking of cities with the most infections per 100,000 inhabitants in two weeks.

The decline in the curve stands out especially in Cáceres (-85% incidence in the last two weeks), Calvià (-85%), Alcoi (-78%), Benidorm (-78%) and Cartagena (-78%). Other provincial capitals such as Valladolid, Segovia, Zamora, Logroño or Murcia have also seen their incidence decrease by more than 50% in the same period, according to the analysis carried out by based on data from the health ministries of 17 autonomous communities and the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. More details of the data in the methodology.

The positive trend of the coronavirus curve is noticeable in much of the territory. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 are already on the decline 📉 in more than 2,610 municipalities where 89% of the Spanish population lives, more than triple the previous week. On the contrary, they are rising 📈in 337 municipalities where 3% of the population lives and in the plateau phase (they remain more or less the same as two weeks ago) in 124, where 3% 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 – representing 5% of the Spanish population.

The following graph shows the ranking of large municipalities (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 changed in the last two weeks compared to the previous two.

According to the latest available data, almost 15 million Spaniards –1 out of 3– live in municipalities with an incidence of more than 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, double the rate that the Ministry of Health classifies as “extreme” risk. The figure represents half that registered a week ago: 30 million people then resided in municipalities with more than this incidence. If we look above this threshold, only 1 million Spaniards live in municipalities with incidences above 1,000 cases.

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 data on infections in each locality: practically the entire territory to With the exception of the smaller municipalities of Castilla y León, Catalunya 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 of the communities are not always homogeneous among themselves due to the type of tests they include, the dates on which they update their figures 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 more than two 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 must be taken into account that the number of cases is closely related to the ability to detect them by the health authorities. 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 regional government of La Rioja, which at first 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 it. 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 1 and 9 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, data on registered unemployment, level of studies 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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