Andalucía brings in mass testing in Covid hotspots

A resident is tested for coronavirus in Villanueva de la Concepción.
A resident is tested for coronavirus in Villanueva de la Concepción. / Salvador Salas
  • The screening, with rapid antigen tests, began on Thursday and initially affects two municipalities in the province of Malaga: Sierra de Yeguas and Villanueva de la Concepción

The regional government in Andalucía has given details this week of new steps to help curb the spread of this second wave of the coronavirus.

As well as limiting gatherings of family and friends to six people (previously there was a recommendation of no more than ten people together), further measures introduced in Andalucía this week include the mass testing of residents in towns and villages with contagion figures of more than 500 per 100,000 inhabitants over a 14-day period.

The screening, with rapid antigen tests, began on Thursday and initially affects eleven municipalities: Sierra de Yeguas and Villanueva de la Concepción in the province of Malaga; Pulpí (Almeria); Almodóvar del Río (Cordoba); Jamilena, Los Villares and Linares (Jaén); and La Campana, Villaverde del Río, Arahal and Paradas (Seville).

In Villanueva de la Concepción and Sierra de Yeguas 604 local residents, selected randomly, were called on Thursday morning to be tested.

"I think it's good; they should have done it a long time ago," said María, a resident of Villanueva de la Concepción.

"Better than others"

The region of Andalucía was resisting the pandemic "better than others" said regional government spokesperson Elías Bendodo on Tuesday when the measures were announced.

According to figures released on Thursday, the 14-day Covid-19 case notification rate per 100,000 inhabitants for the region of Andalucía as a whole was 167.3, still a long way off the 500 limit set by the government to trigger further action.

The rate for Malaga province was even lower: 157.2 cases per 100,000 over 14 days. Marbella's infection rate is higher than the provincial average (260 per 100,000 on Thursday), as are those of other major Costa resorts such as Fuengirola (174.3), Benalmádena (190.8) and Mijas (171.6). Estepona registered a rate of 155.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on Thursday, Nerja 137, Torremolinos 132 and Malaga city 124.

In comparison, the figure for Spain as a whole on Thursday was just over 284 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

In the region of Madrid, however, where further restrictions are being introduced, the rate was at 735.

"[In Andalucía] we have to get ahead and to that end we have to take new measures of control so that the incidence remains lower than the rest of Spain," said Bendodo on Tuesday.

New cases

In terms of the volume of new cases, the latest daily Covid-19 figures released on Thursday showed an increase of 1,303 new cases in the region of Andalucía (232 more than Wednesday) and 19 new deaths in 24 hours (two down on he previous day). Of these new cases, the highest number (307) were in the province of Seville.

In the province of Malaga, 129 new cases of infection (those diagnosed by PCR lab tests) were reported on Thursday (up 18 on Wednesday's figure) and five more deaths. This is line with the trend noted during the month of September, when a total of 77 people died with coronavirus in Malaga province.

Thursday's figures showed a reduction in the number of patients in hospital around Malaga province with Covid-19, from 204 to 191, while the patients in intensive care went up from 29 to 30.

The regional health authority did publish on Wednesday a series of harsher restrictions that could be put in place if the situation in a specific town or health district so required. These involve reducing the capacity and opening hours of bars and restaurants and closing playgrounds, but this week they were only applied to the town of Casariche in Seville province.