Europe has seen major changes in coronavirus case rates over the last two months. In many areas of Europe covid case rates have dropped sufficiently to allow restrictions to be eased, but there are notable exceptions. The Covid-19 rate in Spain now appears to be as bad, if not worse, than two months ago, and the Netherlands has seen a dramatic increase in numbers recently.
In the case of both Spain and the Netherlands, the rates increased following the decision to unlock their countries too quickly, and in both cases those decisions have had to reversed within weeks. Greece too appears to be seeing a new wave, and these areas now represent the largest threat to Europe’s strategy to keeping infection rates down.
The Covid-19 incidence in Spain has soared above 368 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The Valencian Community has approved curfews in 32 municipalities, the Canary Islands also requests curfews and Catalonia advances the closure of activities and limits social gatherings.
“Covid does not give truce in Spain and the epidemic curve continues unbridled in this fifth wave of explosive growth . The accumulated incidence at 14 days has shot up 80% in the last week and, in the absence of two communities (Balearic Islands and Catalonia) that this Monday have not reported the data, it already reaches 368 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
The vaccination campaign has become the key factor that marks the evolution of the pandemic and, with about 46% of the Spanish population with the complete schedule, infections are primed with those under 30 years of age, the population group that has not yet has had massive access to the vaccine: thus, the cumulative incidence in twentysomethings has skyrocketed to about 800 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
With this scenario on the table, the communities rush the implementation of new measures and return the toughest restrictions to the game board: the Valencian Community, for example, has already obtained the endorsement of justice to decree a new curfew in 32 municipalities and the limitation of meetings throughout its territory.
The Canary Islands have also asked for the restriction of night mobility and Catalonia, which last week closed nightlife, has approved bringing the closure of non-essential activities forward to 0.30 and limiting social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people. In a similar vein, from this Tuesday Asturias closes the interior of nightlife. Other communities, such as Madrid, rule out applying new restrictions at this time. “
We studied 71 ferrets belonging to 7 owners; the ferrets were used as working animals for rabbit hunting in Ciudad Real Province, central Spain. All 71 ferrets were included in the study, and none showed clinical signs of any illness. Group sizes ranged from 4 to 21 (mean 10). Twenty ferrets belonging to groups 1 and 2 were resampled 66 days after initial sampling. Information on coronavirus disease in the owners was not available. Sampling took place during August–November 2020.
We found SARS-CoV-2 RNA in swab samples from 6 of the 71 ferrets.
We conclude that natural SARS-CoV-2 infection in kept ferrets does occur in circumstances of high viral circulation in the human population However, the high cycle thresholds observed and the lack of virus-positive ferrets at resampling suggest that small ferret populations are less able to maintain prolonged virus circulation than large, farmed mink populations.
All epidemic indicators continue to worsen in Catalonia, Spain, where infections continue to skyrocket, with 5,206 new diagnoses in the last 24 hours and an average age that fell for the first time yesterday from 29 years and this Thursday stands at 28.7. There has not been such a high number of positives since January, after the Christmas parties, when 7,000 cases were detected in one day.
The cases confirmed by all kinds of tests since the beginning of the epidemic amount to 715,535, of which 5,206 have been diagnosed in the last 24 hours. Three deaths have also been reported. Where the indicators get worse is in the city of Barcelona and its metropolitan surroundings.
The R rate is 1.54, twelve hundredths more than Wednesday, that is, that every 100 infected infects an average of 154 people, which indicates that there is uncontrolled community transmission, while the risk of regrowth (EPG ) is still shot at 199 points, 35 more than the day before.
The World Wildlife Fund has renewed its calls for American mink farms in Spain to be closed down following the news that another four outbreaks of Covid-19 have been identified at establishments in the Galicia province of A Coruña.
These latest outbreaks bring the total at mink farms in Spain up to 9, including 7 in A Coruña, and the WWF welcome the news that the issue is on the agenda for the current meeting of the European Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH). The organization continues to petition for the forced closure of the 25 mink farms in Galicia, due not only to the proven link between the species and the spread of coronavirus but also to the threat the invasive species represents to native wildlife.
According to the WWF, the Spanish authorities have been slow to take action regarding mink farms, not tightening the controls and checks at these establishments until late last year in contrast with the rapid reactions of other European governments, such as those of the Netherlands and Denmark.
“Parties in hotel rooms, large bottles, boat trips and a massive reggaeton concert in the Palma bullring are behind the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 700 students from eight autonomous communities and forced the isolation of another 2,000 in Madrid who participated in end-of-year trips to Mallorca.
The Government of the Balearic Islands has identified several sources of contagion and is investigating nine hotels in the Arenal de Llucmajor area while conducting a case for a very serious offence against the organizers of a reggaeton concert that was suspended by the police while it was being held by the widespread breaches of protection measures. “
El Pais report (in Spanish)
Andalusia has detected the first case of a patient infected with both covid and West Nile virus . This is a young man who was admitted with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus at the Virgen del Rocío hospital in Seville and who, after detecting symptoms compatible with meningitis, similar to those shown by patients with West Nile fever, was they carried out the pertinent tests. It is the first case registered with this double infection simultaneously in the same person.
“The Andalusian General Health Directorate has confirmed the positive for Nile virus”, explains the hematologist Salvador Oyonarte , member of the Scientific Committee for Transfusion Safety of the Ministry of Health and manager of the Andalusian Network of Transfusion Medicine, Tissues and Cells. “There are no records of other patients and the affected person presents an atypical picture. It is very important to go back to the date of signs of symptoms, “says Oyonarte, who clarifies that” he would like to have more details “and even do more tests to verify that” it is not a false positive for the Nile virus.”
El Pais report (in Spanish)
In Galicia this week another mink farm has been temporarily closed down by the authorities following an outbreak of Covid-19 at the establishment. The American mink farm concerned is located in Carral in the province of A Coruña and the regional Department of the Environment reports that the outbreak has been reported to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Food.
The presence of coronavirus has been detected in five mink, all of them asymptomatic, and the samples will now be analysed to establish which strain of SARS-CoV-2 is involved.
There are currently 25 registered mink farms in Galicia with a total of 71,479 reproducing females, and this is the fourth registered Covid-19 outbreak among them over the last 15 months. Anti-mink farming groups have again demanded the immediate closure of all such establishments in the light of the most recent findings, citing over 400 similar instances since the start of the pandemic in 12 countries, 10 of them in Europe.
“SARS-CoV-2 was detected in Barcelona sewage long before the declaration of the first COVID-19 case, indicating that the infection was present in the population before the first imported case was reported. Sentinel surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater would enable adoption of immediate measures in the event of future COVID-19 waves.
Most COVID-19 cases show mild influenza-like symptoms (14) and it has been suggested that some uncharacterized influenza cases may have masked COVID-19 cases in the 2019-2020 season (11). This possibility prompted us to analyze some archival WWTP samples from January 2018 to December 2019 (Figure 2). All samples came out to be negative for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genomes with the exception of March 12, 2019, in which both IP2 and IP4 target assays were positive. This striking finding indicates circulation of the virus in Barcelona long before the report of any COVID-19 case worldwide.”
** This is an important story from June 2020 that we are sure we covered at the time but it seems to have disappeared from our archives, so we are republishing it.
Traces of #coronavirus have been found in samples taken from sewage in Milan and Turin in DECEMBER 2019, according to a study by Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS).
— Corona Heads Up (@CoronaHeadsUp) June 19, 2020
We now report the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in 2 of 13 feral dark brown American mink (Neovison vison) trapped in the Valencian Community (Eastern Spain), during an invasive species trapping campaign. They were trapped in riverbeds in sparsely inhabited rural areas known to harbor self-sustained feral mink populations. The closest fur farm is about 20 km away. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected by two-step RT-PCR in these animals’ mesenteric lymph nodes and was confirmed by sequencing a 397-nucleotide amplified region of the S gene, yielding identical sequences in both animals. A molecular phylogenetic analysis was run on this sequence, which was found to correspond to the consensus SARS-CoV-2 sequence from Wuhan. Our findings appear to represent the first example of SARS-CoV-2 acquired in the wild by feral mink in self-sustained populations.
The Spanish Health Department is investigating the death of a corporal, aged 35, assigned to the Infantry Regiment América 66 de Cazadores de Montaña, based in the Aizoáin barracks, Navarra, after suffering a “cerebral sinus thrombosis with thrombocytopenia and cerebral hemorrhage”, 17 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. The military man died this morning at the University Clinic of Navarra.
The corporal, married and expecting a child, was vaccinated with AstraZeneca on the afternoon of April 7 in his own unit. The Spanish Troop and Sailor Association (ATME) explained that in the following days he suffered “severe headaches and acute discomfort”, which forced him to go to the barracks first aid service and then to the emergency room of a health center from Pamplona. On the night of this last Wednesday, April 21, the corporal suffered a faint while he was at his home, according to the Army, to which America 66 belongs.
Update: “This Friday, the Pharmacovigilance Center of the Health Department of the Government of Navarra has received a notification of a “adverse event with fatal outcome” of a person who had been vaccinated with Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) on April 7 against Covid-19. Despite the fact that the Provincial Government has reported that he had died after suffering a “cerebral sinus thrombosis with thrombocytopenia and cerebral hemorrhage”, the affected person has not died and is in a situation of brain death.”
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday that democratic governments can make vaccinations obligatory, in a landmark judgement rejecting complaints brought by Czech families penalised for refusing compulsory jabs for their children.
“The… measures could be regarded as being ‘necessary in a democratic society'” the court ruled, saying that the Czech health policy was consistent with the “best interests” of children.
Our opinion: ** Is there an easier or quicker way of antagonising parents in the middle of a global viral pandemic than encouraging mandatory vaccinations? We can’t think of one. Expect severe blowback **
Experts admit it will be hard to restore trust in the AstraZeneca vaccine, the use of which is set to restart on Wednesday. A recent survey shows 56% of Spanish respondents now consider it ‘unsafe’.
At a meeting of Spain’s Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System on Monday, central and regional health officials also decided to extend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to a larger target group of adults, with the upper threshold now established at 65 years of age instead of 55.