The sixth wave hits the ceiling: infections fall in cities of Andalusia, Extremadura, Navarra or Madrid

Source: autonomous communities

* Information updated with the latest data available as of January 18.

After almost two months of uncontrolled increase in infections, the sixth wave begins to show signs of peaking. The incidence rate stagnates or falls in fifty large cities, and territories of Andalusia, Extremadura, Navarra or Madrid begin to notice the decrease in cases. Throughout the country, 16% of the population lives in municipalities where infections are falling and another 18% where they have the same incidence as two weeks ago.

The five cities with more than 40,000 inhabitants where cases have fallen the most are in Andalusia: in Alhaurín de la Torre they have been reduced by 42% in 14 days, followed by Mairena del Aljarafe (-39%), Rincón de la Victoria (- 31%) and Chiclana de la Frontera (-30%). At the opposite extreme is Cuenca, where infections have increased by 326% in fourteen days, along with Vila-Real (+257%), Ceuta (+241%) and Castellón de la Plana (+217%).

Unlike previous waves, this latest one has taken longer to reach hospitals. This week hospital pressure entered a "very high" risk, according to the 'traffic light' of the Ministry of Health, with more than 15% of the beds occupied by patients with a COVID clinic. Mortality, although it remains far from the figures reached at other times of the epidemic, thanks to vaccination, has registered an increase of 29% in the last week. These are some of the results extracted from the analysis carried out by based on data from the Departments of Health of the 19 autonomous communities and cities. You can read more details in the methodology.

At a global level, confirmed cases of COVID-19 are rising 📈 in 4,010 localities (in 3,567 of them very quickly 📈 📈 ) where 66% of the Spanish population lives, they are falling 📉 in 1,081 municipalities where 16% of the population and are in a plateau phase (they remain more or less the same as two weeks ago) in 152, where 18% live. The rest are very small municipalities where very few cases are registered –less than 5 every two weeks– or for which no information is available –which represent less than 1% 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 cases of COVID-19, in 14 days and the trend of infections in each municipality of the autonomous communities that have published their infection data in each locality: practically the entire territory to except for the smaller municipalities of Catalonia and Galicia, which do not break down the figures of the municipalities with fewer inhabitants.

The data for each municipality used for this article shows 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 on positives by PCR test, antigen test and some also add cases confirmed by rapid antibody tests. This medium, which has been collecting data by municipality since the end of March 2020, calculates the trend 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 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 late when updating their figures.

In 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 in 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants) are small towns in which an outbreak can affect a larger proportion of the population.

Some municipalities do not appear as there are no data available and some communities do not publish the total number of confirmed cases since the start of the epidemic. It must 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 carried out, the more cases detected. How many confirmed cases are there in each municipality and what 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 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 have published them. Extremadura, under the same criteria, initially only published 8 more populated municipalities in the region. Now it publishes the figures even by local entities, villages and districts. La Rioja does not now publish those of the towns with fewer residents. They 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 COVID-19 case data by municipality.

Galicia was the last to publish the figures by municipality, which added almost 6 months to its COVID-19 data portal since the start of the epidemic. This region does not publish the figures of the municipalities that have registered between one and nine cases in the last 14 days. Currently all the autonomies publish the figures broken down by location on their transparency portals, open data websites or official pages with the COVID-19 situation.

These data are essential to combat a pandemic: they allow 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, hundreds of statistics broken down by municipality are published from all administrations: 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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