The head of virology at Son Espases University Hospital, Jordi Reina, says that 90% of Covid cases being sequenced at the hospital’s microbiology lab are of the Omicron variant. Extrapolating from this, it can be concluded that 80 to 90 per cent of all cases in the Balearics are Omicron. Much more contagious than previous variants, but also less virulent, Reina adds that it has become dominant in the Balearics “very rapidly”.
Although the regional health ministry has reported a further 4,659 positive cases on Tuesday, Reina says that there will be many more, as people who are asymptomatic are unaware of it. He echoes the views of specialist in public health and preventive medicine, Joan Carles March, who has stated that the real level of Covid infections is double those being recorded.
This high number of cases has led the Spanish government to work on a strategy to start treating Covid like the flu, leaving aside the detailed case count and calculating instead how the disease is spreading, with special attention to hospitalisations. The Balearic director-general of public health, Maria Antònia Font, has herself observed “mild Covid will have to be managed like any cold”.
The fact that the great majority of cases are mild has meant heavy pressure on primary care, with almost 47,000 cases currently being monitored. But there are inevitably some more serious cases. On hospital wards in the Balearics there are 311 Covid patients; on New Year’s Eve, for example, there were 235. In intensive care units, there are 76 patients, as opposed to 61 on December 31.