Spain avoids the quarantines of Italy and maintains the & # 039; German route & # 039; against the virus

Every day that passes, the pressure on the government to tighten the measures against the coronavirus epidemic intensifies. Health, however, remains firm in its idea that we are still in a containment phase and, therefore, it is not necessary to introduce restrictive measures as if the countries around us have done. But who is right? Is it the Spanish strategy fruit of paralysis or is there method in madness?

Right now, the four European countries with the most people infected by Covid-19 are Italy, France, Germany and Spain. The SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating in all four countries about the same time, since the end of January. However, the epidemic curves in each of them are being very different, and the same goes for the measurements.

They all share the same theoretical basis. One is displayed first containment phase to try that the cases that come from outside do not manage to initiate local contagions. Once these contagions occur, we move on to a second, more restrictive phase, to prevent uncontrolled propagation within the territory.

Italy and France are already on that stage, with prohibitions and cancellations of events crowd Spain, however, celebrated this weekend the demonstrations for Women's Day, a Vox rally in Vistalegre or football matches with tens of thousands of spectators across the country.

Aerial view of the 8-M demonstration in Madrid as it passes through Cibeles, commemorating International Women's Day. (EFE)

The fear is accentuated because shortly it will be the turn of the Fallas or Holy Week, two bombs of epidemiological clocks but, at the same time, two props for tourism (which, remember, accounts for almost 15% of the GDP of our country) what they could be paralyzing the government when it comes to that scenario 2.

Italy: 7,375 cases, 366 dead

The case of Italy is the most paradigmatic. Saturday at 2:17 a.m., Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte offered a press conference after the filtration of the decree of measures that provided for the creation of a quarantine zone for the entire Lombardy and 11 other provinces in the north of the country.

Italy opted for drastic measures very early on, with the closure of towns like Codogno, the Lombard town of 16,000 inhabitants already nicknamed 'the Italian Wuhan'. Nothing served to contain the outbreak, which is currently runaway and throughout the weekend has increased in more than 1,200 cases and 130 dead. The decree also caused chaos at train stations, given that citizens were trying to escape from the 'red zone' before the start of quarantine.

Residents stock up on commodities in a supermarket in Milan on March 8. (EFE)

The last measures dictated by the Council of Ministers already forced the closing of discos, ballrooms or gyms, dictated to public and private workers to take vacations during the next three weeks or decreed sanctions or arrests for trying to leave Quarantine zones.

The firmness of the measures has not served, however, to prevent the transalpine country from becoming the second in the world with the most infected and killed by Covid-19 behind China. The virus is peculiar in the sense that, for example, it does not seem to affect children in the same way as adults. That makes social distancing measures such as school closings, which in other epidemics seemed to work well, here they do not seem to represent a positive difference in the control of the virus.

"We do not know if it is an important control measure or just one very expensive, expensive and disruptive control measure", summed up Marc Lipsitch, a Harvard epidemiologist, to the 'Washington Post'.

France: 1,126 cases, 19 dead

Until the death of a man in Valencia on February 13, France was listed as the first European country with a deadly coronavirus victim. On February 29, Health Minister Olivier Veran banned all events with more than 5,000 people. This meant the cancellation of the International Agricultural Exhibition of Versailles, of many of the fashion shows of the Paris fashion week or of the half marathon that was to take place in the French capital.

The most iconic image of the situation there has been to see the Louvre closed. Like Italy, the neighboring country has chosen to put safety and limitation of contagion to try to alleviate the inevitable tourist losses. Their death figures are more or less at the same level as in Spain, although France has diagnosed almost twice as infected.

"Now we are going to phase 2: the virus is circulating in our territory and our objective at this moment is to limit its expansion"

"Now we are going to phase 2: the virus is circulating in our territory and our goal at this time is to limit its expansion," Veran said when visiting one of the affected areas. Late on Sunday, the France Presse agency talked about the number of attendees allowed in a meeting has been lowered to 1,000 people.

Germany: 1,018 cases, zero dead

Despite being currently the sixth country in the world with more cases of coronavirus, the Teutonic country has mainly opted for a containment strategy that, little by little, is also giving way to certain limitations. Following in the footsteps of France, Berlin has also asked its citizens to cancel events where more than 1,000 people congregate.

The German route, drawn up by the Robert Koch Institute (the equivalent of the American Center for Disease Prevention and Control), is the more similar to the one the Spanish Government is following, with one important exception: there, despite having exceeded a thousand cases and having Covid-19 in 15 of the 16 federal states, no fatalities have yet been registered.

Spain: 613 cases, 17 dead

The Ministry of Health seems to rely heavily on its strategy, to the despair of the opposition and many Spaniards who demand measures such as those from France, Germany or Italy. In his last appearance on Saturday, Fernando Simón looked specifically at the number of people whose infection was of unknown origin. It was going down moderately in recent days, and despite the increase in cases and deaths in the last 48 hours, that particular fact seemed to reassure the epidemiologist.

The Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, and the director of the Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simón. (EFE)

In summary, Spain is still in that containment phase, a strategy that could go a little further, but only in specific places. Curiously, our country is in a time of cases and deaths similar to that lived in Italy 10 days ago: almost 800 infected and 20 deaths on February 28.

But, fortunately for Illa and Simón, the epidemic curves are not written in advance nor do they have to be repeated in two countries as similar as Italy and Spain. The next few days – even the next few hours – will tell if the strategy is adequate.