In just one week, cases have soared in the Archipelago as never before in the almost two years of the pandemic. Who seems to be behind this exorbitant increase is, among other possible circumstances, the omicron variant, whose expansion throughout the Islands, especially Tenerife, is “causing great concern” to the Canary Islands Government. This circumstance, together with the data of the pandemic – which break records again for the second day in a row-, has forced the Executive to limit the number of guests to 6They will be able to be together at Christmas both in Gran Canaria and in Tenerife.
This week 78 cases of omicron variant registered in the Canary Islands have been detected after sequencing the corresponding samples, of which 65 correspond to samples from Tenerife, 12 from Gran Canaria and one from La Palma. With these data, it is suspected that the variant already accounts for 21.2% of cases in Tenerife and 4% in Gran Canaria. The rest corresponds to the Delta variant.
- 3% of active cases in the Archipelago are hospitalized, which is a similar figure to that of the summer wave. Before the vaccine, the percentage was 5%
But this is not the only reason. The Governing Council, as a result of the Public Health analysis, has concluded that there are up to three other circumstances that have made it easier for the virus to spread than at other times in the pandemic. The key date was the December bridge. “Until then we saw how the incidence decreased,” explained the Vice-Minister of the Presidency, Antonio Olivera, who highlighted that the cases began to increase only five days later. The contagions at that exact moment occurred “due to an increase in mobility and leisure” which was joined by several massive events that ended up becoming super contagious episodes.
Among them is the well-known outbreak of the Habama nightclub, in the south of Tenerife, which was attended by a total of 1,500 young people – although not all of them coincided at the same time – of which 69 cases have already been counted. Health also confirmed yesterday that the omicron variant was involved in this outbreak.
cases in 24 hours
- The Canary Islands yesterday registered 1,482 cases in just one day. Of the total cases, 67% correspond to Tenerife, which totals 1,000. Gran Canaria adds 342 new positives and grows 50%
Pandemic fatigue has also helped to maximize infections. “There is greater relaxation due to the exhaustion of a population that has been acting responsibly for a long time,” said Olivera. But as he insisted, this is not the time to lower your guard. “It is important that, at a time like this, we do not lower the tension,” he insisted.
Ultimately there are the levels of vaccination, since the low rate of protection with the complete schedule coincides with the population groups with higher incidences (in the 20 to 49 year-old groups). Young people between 20 and 29 years old – who are the ones who accumulate the most infections in recent days – are only 58.73% vaccinated with two doses, the lowest percentage in the entire Canary Islands (not counting children). In young adults between 30 and 39 years of age, the situation is not much better, since only 63.83% are vaccinated with the full schedule.
Despite the great expansion capacity that the variant is showing, Antonio Olivera, Deputy Minister of the Presidency, remarked that “its consequences on morbidity are not so many.” Approximately 3% of infected people (that is, of active cases) are admitted to some type of hospital bed. A percentage similar to that found with the expansion of the Delta variant during the summer and much lower than that which occurred during last Christmas, which reached 5% of active cases.
- The capacity is reduced to 50% indoors and 30% indoors. Less in the hospitality industry, where they will be able to remain at 75% outdoors and will be reduced to 40% indoors.
In absolute terms, as of today, this percentage corresponds to 321 hospitalized people, of which 58 are in critical condition in the ICU. But as Olivera warned, this does not mean that hospitals cannot saturate again. “The more contagions grow, the more likely it is that they reach vulnerable people and that income grows,” he warned. It should be noted that, in summer, despite the lower percentage of people admitted compared to the number of active cases, saturation in Canarian hospitals was one of the highest in the entire pandemic with a maximum of 589 patients admitted at the same time and up to 102 in ICU.
Red light parties
And this is how Tenerife and Gran Canaria have finished in level 3 just a week before Christmas. These restrictions, which are imposed on both islands after more than three months of practically complete freedom, will take effect tonight. Under the restrictions of this new risk traffic light, the population of these islands will only be able to meet with a maximum of 6 people, the closure of the premises will be decreed at 2:00 in the morning and the capacity will be reduced to 50% outdoors and 30% indoors – with the exception of the hospitality industry, where they will remain at 75% outdoors and will be limited to 40% indoors. At this level, it is also recommended to postpone mass events and only those that gather less than 1,000 attendees will be allowed to take place.
In addition to these measures, the Ministry of Health wants to implement the mandatory covid certificate in some places or events in which there is a greater risk of contagion. If imposed (requires judicial ratification), Olivera sees “probable” that the incentives that had been proposed will no longer be applied for those activities that decide to request it voluntarily. “It seems logical and reasonable that they no longer apply these improvements,” Olivera insisted, who, however, indicated that it is necessary for the Minister of Health, Blas Trujillo, to establish it in his measures. Regarding the Ministry of Education, it has been proposed to suspend all Christmas school parties, however, the teaching activity will be maintained. “We have witnessed that it is more positive to keep classes because the classrooms are safe and, if we suspend them, the alternative can cause more infections,” he insisted. The Government has also decided to upgrade La Palma to level 2 and maintain level 3 in Fuerteventura. The rest of the islands remain at 1.
Tenerife is the island most affected by this exponential increase in infections, reaching 67% of the total cases diagnosed in the Islands yesterday. On this island – which yesterday added 1,000 new cases – weekly positives have tripled compared to the week of the bridge. This increase on the island drags the data from the Canary Islands, which yesterday broke its record again by adding 1,482 new cases. Gran Canaria also increases its infections by 52% compared to the previous week, which represents a rapid increase, although less exponential than that of Tenerife.