As more people were vaccinated, face mask and other rules were gradually dropped in Spain. / Migue Fernández

News round-up of 2022: Health

Covid figures still dominated much of the news at the start of the year

TONY BRYANT, DEBBIE BARTLETT, JENNIE RHODES

With so much other news to report on, it was easy to forget by the end of the year that the coronavirus pandemic was still in full swing as at the start of it. At least, on that front, there was a sense of things getting back to normal in terms of health and the economy.

Covid rules begin to change

Infection rate starts to drop

Covid-19 continued to dominate the headlines in January, although, after the previous year's uncertainty, this news was of a more positive nature. The Junta de Andalucía announced that the emphasis should not be on the high rate of infections but rather on the lower number of patients entering hospital or dying. During a press conference in Malaga in January, regional president Juanma Moreno pointed out that he believed there was a case for shortening quarantine periods in order to reduce the number of people off work with no symptoms.

Case rate continues to fall

End of the Covid passport and daily updates

As hospitalisations and reported cases continued to fall, the Junta de Andalucía announced that it would be possible to enter hospitality venues, medical facilities and nursing homes once again without the need to show a certificate or QR code. The move, which had been widely expected, was welcomed by the hospitality industry, which claimed that the measure had served its purpose.

The rolling 14-day case rate per 100,000 people in Andalucía continued to drop week on week, which meant both the national and regional governments put an end to daily updates of Covid-19 cases.

Final control measures relaxed

Wearing of face masks indoors ends

The Spanish government approved the dropping of one of its last coronavirus control measures in April, as the country continued along its path towards handling its response to the Covid-19 infection as it did the flu.

Although face coverings were no longer compulsory in most indoor spaces, there were exceptions. These included patients and staff in communal areas in hospitals, people visiting or working in residential care homes and on public transport.

However, after numerous calls throughout the rest of the year for the face mask rule to be dropped completely, Spain's minister of Health, Carolina Darias, said at the beginning of December that masks will remain compulsory on public transport and on all flights departing from or landing in Spain until public health experts say it is safe to lift the rule. Spain is one of the few EU countries to maintain the obligation of wearing a mask on public transport.

Monkeypox cases confirmed in Spain

Regional health authorities warned to be on alert

As if to keep the public on its toes still, in May, Carolina Darias, warned the regional governments' health authorities to be on the alert for possible cases of monkeypox virus after seven cases were detected in Madrid. At the beginning of August, there were more than 5,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Spain, although by the end of the month, the figures began to fall.