Spain Eyes Mask Removal In Public As Rates Continue To Fall

The latest official Spanish government´s figures for the Covid-19 infection rate shows a continuing downward trend – as of yesterday, May 17th, Spain has 151 infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

There remain wide variations across the region, with Madrid still one of the highest at 239 while Valencia is on less than 30 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

In addition to the lowering infection rates, Spain´s vaccine rollout pace has quickened with the under-50s age group next in line for their vaccinations from next month.

The governments target is to reach the 70% “herd immunity” threshold by late summer.

Speaking at the Ibero-American Business Alliance Congress, the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, said that ” we are going to have more than seven million people with complete protection and 15 million with one dose, meaning that once most citizens aged 70 to 79 have complete protection in May, the mass vaccination of the under-50s will begin in June.”

Some of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions  have already announced plans to vaccinate the 40-49 group from next month, indeed, Castilla-La Mancha have announced that they will start administering the vaccine to the 30-39 population before July.

As of yesterday, 17th May, Spain has received a total of 23,878,785 doses of Covid-19 vaccines (15,358,785 from Pfizer-BioNTech, 2,395,800 from Moderna, 5,713,800 from AstraZeneca and 410,400 from Janssen) of which 22,313,088 have been administered.

Some 15.2% of the population is now immune from Covid-19.

The improving epidemiological situation in the country could mean that obligatory mask wearing could be phased out in those regions where the incidence rate is low.

The government´s head of the Covid-19 Task Group –  Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES), Fernando Simon, said a decision could be made in a matter of “not many days.”

Simon said that the CCAES is reviewing the situation including the use of masks, saying,“the evolution of vaccination and the epidemic tells us that it may not take long to make clear proposals to remove masks in specific situations.”

He also hinted that the mask relaxation could occur in closed spaces where there is already a high vaccination coverage, such as nursing homes where both staff and residents have been immunised.

Since the ending of the national state of alarm on 9th May, the competence to combat the coronavirus lie with the country´s 17 autonomous communities so it could be possible to see some communities such as Valencia with a low rate allow for a relaxation of measures including mask wearing and others such as Madrid with a high rate maintaining them.

To date Spain has recorded 3,615,860 coronavirus cases of which 79,432 have died.
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