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The Spanish Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that it will soon stop registering all Covid-19 infections across the country and instead only count cases that are serious and affecting vulnerable people.
This new strategy will be an intermediate step before changing to record Covid data in the same way as any other endemic respiratory virus, but which is now likely to be in 2023, according to Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias. Spain has been leading calls for governments to now start treating Covid as an endemic since early January. Also read: Spain leads push for Covid to be treated as an endemic virus, like seasonal flu.
It will mean that the national incidence rate, currently calculated over 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants, will no longer be used to evaluate the state of the pandemic in Spain.
The transitory stage will still be ‘capable of detecting increases in the incidence in the general population, which allows the early detection of new variants and the measurement of vaccine effectiveness’, stated Spain’s Inter-territorial National Health Council – represented by the central health ministry and all regional health authorities. It followed a meeting held by the council in Zaragoza.
On Thursday the council announced that it would soon begin a transition towards not counting each and every new Covid infection, but focus instead on monitoring high-risk groups and serious Coronavirus cases.
With high vaccination rates in Spain and a dominant Omicron variant that’s proven to be less lethal than previous strains, the health council has decided to end the comprehensive surveillance system that’s been in place for the past two years. Also read: Covid-19 Vaccinations in Spain.
Darias has not yet specified when the change in surveillance will come into effect, but further details are expected soon. Last week she said that instead of daily Covid infection and vaccination reports issued by the health ministry – as has been the case since March 2020 – there will only be two a week going forward.
There had been hopes that the Inter-territorial National Health Council meeting held in Zaragoza on Thursday would also lead to a decision on the ending the need for wearing face masks in indoor public settings, but no announcement has yet been made on this.