Christmas Eve Dawn 2021 aka good night here in España, and I get an intriguing photo on my cell phone.
The one who sends it is my Catalan namorildo, on vacation in the Canary Islands visiting his father’s family.
The image shows her lone bags in a hotel room. What surprises me: at that time of night, they should all be staying, gathered and eating Jamon e polvorones* at the uncle’s house.
Of course, I should have guessed.
The reason for the sudden change of plans had to be Her, the Conqueror of Alien Cells, the Unwanted, the Omnipresent, the Oh-I-Caught-You: Covid-El-Diecinueve.
What happened is that, at the last minute, after a second round of antigen tests (the first, before catching the plane in Barcelona), they identified an infected person in the family, the younger brother of Namô, who was just beginning to feel a little headache and fever.
It’s about isolating everyone, separating families, quarantining legs. Adiós, Christmas, adiós, holidays.
COVID AS ENDEMIC DISEASE
The Spanish Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, caused a bit of a stir last Wednesday (12) by declaring that it is time to consider the possibility of creating a “new surveillance system for Covid-19”. He also said that the country would be willing to “lead” the international debate on the matter.
In this new imagined scenario, Covid would be treated as an endemic disease, as has been the case for years with the common flu.
The change would specifically affect the disease surveillance system, without altering the clinical protocols already in place.
In other words, health policies would leave the current exhaustive scrutiny and case-by-case testing for a statistically significant sampling approach, with specialized surveillance networks integrated by doctors and “sentinel” hospitals.
According to Darias, it is important to promote debate at the European level “in order to determine the best options to face a disease that, little by little, is acquiring endemic characteristics”.
The proposal of the minister, herself a victim of Covid in 2020, is not new: it has been discussed in various areas of Spanish Health since the beginning of the pandemic and has also been applied in recent months, on a pilot basis, in some communities.
According to Amparo Larrauri, from the Spanish National Center for Epidemiology (CNE), discussing a paradigm shift like this is even more urgent given the current context, in which the “high transmissibility” of the omicron “is making it impossible to strictly comply with the protocols of universal surveillance”.
Any change in the approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, has to go through the WHO, and it has already replied that for now is not the time for strategic changes: yes/we live/a/pandemic.
OMICRON OR COVID “RETRO”
Whether the party-killer of the aforementioned Natal Canário was the ômicron or, as the namô says, the “original” or “retro” version of COVID-19, it is not possible to know.
The fact is that, in Spain, less than two months after the WHO released the name of the new variant for the first time, a study suggests that it already dominates 50% to 90% of new infections.
Hospital pressure grows and has already reached half the rates recorded during the hardest period of 2021, the “Third Wave” of last winter. In Catalonia, 44% of ICUs are occupied by patients with Covid; the country average is 23.6%, bordering on the high risk limit established by the government (25%), in turn already reached by half of the country.
On the other hand, the attenuating effect of the vaccine, although more complete data are still lacking, is unequivocal.
Currently, 90.5% of the Spanish population is fully vaccinated. In addition, 90% of those over 70 have already received their third booster dose.
A study released by the Catalan government based on data from the last four weeks indicates that the unimmunized between 70 and 79 years old are up to 10 times more likely to end up in the ICU with Covid than the vaccinated (or 6 times more likely to be hospitalized ). The contrast is also clear in other age groups and in related mortality rates.
The Sixth Wave begins to show (slight) signs of decline in Spain. As of this Friday (21), in fact, Catalonia will suspend the curfew between 1 am and 6 am, an emergency measure adopted during the holiday season. Masks, distance and Covid certificate are still mandatory across the country.
Whatever happens, just in case, I’ve already stocked some quick tests in the panty drawer.
Since June 2021, it is possible to buy them without a prescription in Spanish pharmacies. Only on January 13, however, the government finally decided to set a maximum price of 2.94 euros (just under R$20). At the end of last year, when demand for the tests soared by more than 500%, it was impossible to find them. I’ve only seen it in distant pharmacies for absurd prices, like 18 to 20 euros (approximately R$ 114).
Unfortunately, The-Tale-Of-A-Covidian-Christmas in the Canary Islands does not end with my brother-in-law’s confinement.
At intervals of a week, the others fell.
My father-in-law, the last to test positive (note: after two negative tests, and with a complete vaccination), he was only able to relax the day before the flight back home.
Luckily (I want to believe it, in my disney lone immigrant fantasy), he had a loving-caring family with him to pass on to him. polvorones under the door.
Powders, people. Because the rest is in no hurry.
* Polvorones, polvorón, petit beurre biscuit: buttery biscuit made from almonds and flavored with lemon, wrapped in poetic-retro silk paper, typical of the Christmas season. Commonly (according to yo misma) paçoca española or