The Junta’s ‘committee of experts’ meets to decide new Covid control measures

The regional government's president, Juanma Moreno, has already ruled out curfews and is committed to restrictions "that affect economic activity as little as possible"

EUROPA PRESS

The head of the Junta de Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, will preside over a meeting of the regional government's coronavirus pandemic ‘committee of experts’ this Monday morning, 3 January, in Malaga.

The Regional Committee for High Impact on Public Health, will meet to decide whether to adopt new measures in the region in the face of the increase in Covid-19 infections and the rapid expansion of the Omicron variant, which has seen the region register the highest daily numbers of infections and incidence rate of the entire pandemic.

The meeting of the ‘committee of experts’ chaired by Juanma Moreno will take place at 11.30 am in the Government Delegation offices of the Junta de Andalucía in Malaga and at the end of the meeting, the Minister of Health, Jesús Aguirre, will attend a press conference to advise the measures agreed.

Andalucía registered 15,471 new infections in 24 hours last Friday, 31 December 2021, the latest data released by the Ministry of Health, and the 14-day incidence rate increased by 119.5 to reach 1,213.9 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, some 541.7 more in just one week.

On Friday, the number of hospitalised patients stood at 1,108, with 182 of them admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The Minister of Health, Jesús Aguirre, said in early December that if the thousand patients hospitalised by Covid threshold was exceeded, new restrictions should be adopted.

No curfews

The question is what type of measures will be introduced this week in Andalucía and if some of the restrictions that are no longer in force - that affected opening hours, capacity in hospitality establishments - will be restored. The Junta’s head, Juanma Moreno himself said on Monday, 27 December, that this increase in infections would force the Junta "to make some decisions" in accordance with the committee of experts, although he made it clear that "restrictions such as those of the Generalitat of Catalonia are not on the table, nor curfew or measures as harsh as in other autonomous regions" because the wish of the Andalusian Government is that they "affect as little as possible economic and productive activity."

The Andalusian president then defended that, although the level of incidence is "very high" and reaches unknown values in the entire pandemic, the region has one of the lowest 14-day incidence in all of Spain and stressed that vaccination has translated this into a "considerably lower clinical incidence" than previous waves, and if had been seen during "the third wave, we would been speaking of hundreds of deaths".

'Covid passports'

The Junta’s ‘committee of experts’ last met on 9 December, when it decided to expand the need to require the Covid certificate of vaccination, recovery or negative test (PCR in 72 hours or antigen test in 48 hours performed by authorised centre) for people to access hospitality and nightlife establishments, a measure that will remain in force until 15 January after being ratified by the region’s top court, the Superior Court of Justice of Andalucía (TSJA).

At that meeting, the committee of experts also decided to eliminate the restrictions on capacity and opening hours in health districts at alert Levels 1 and 2. Since last Wednesday, the Covid alert Level 2 has been in force in all the health districts of three provinces, Córdoba, Seville and Malaga, while those of the five remaining provinces, Almeria, Cadiz, Granada, Huelva and Jaén, are at alert Level 1.

The last meeting of the expert committee made a series of recommendations for the festive period and referred specifically to the Three Kings parades to recommend that they be carried out in large spaces, increasing the route if necessary, to avoid crowds of people.