Spain-Portugal: A few cases, ICU licenses-How did they do it?

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Despite the crowded restaurants, bars and shopping streets, Spain and Portugal are doing just fine with the pandemic. What are the two Iberian countries doing best?
At a time when the outbreak of cases in Germany and most other European countries has alerted the authorities, the minority government of Pedro Sanchez in Spain is coming out stronger than the pandemic. “The cries of the opposition have now been silenced,” the Spanish prime minister said in a speech to fans at the Benidorm resort, expressing satisfaction that the “impending triumph” against the pandemic was a “success for the government and society.” The prime minister even promised that “most likely in the spring” the coronavirus will be defeated.

And indeed: Both Spain and Portugal are characterized by the Spanish newspaper El Periódico as an “oasis” in the pandemic desert of Europe, even though the cases of the last seven days are on the rise. In Spain at 55 per 100,000 inhabitants and in neighboring Portugal at around 100. However, compared to other European countries the incidence remains extremely low. In Germany they now reach 340, in the Netherlands they have exceeded 700 and in Austria they are approaching 1,000.

The high rate of vaccination is crucial

It is interesting that in the Iberian Peninsula not only fewer cases are recorded. The number of seriously ill is relatively small. In Portugal, ICU hospitalizations have dropped to 55 in recent days, while in Spain only 13% of intensive care beds with covid patients are occupied. Consequently, neither Spain nor Portugal discuss the possibility of imposing a vaccine on the unvaccinated.

This positive development is undoubtedly due to the high rate of vaccination of the population, which reaches 87% in Portugal and 80% in Spain. In other words, it is among the highest vaccination rates in Europe, but also worldwide. Spaniards and Portuguese learn about the anti-vaccination movement only when they watch demonstrations on television in other European countries.

But it is not just high vaccination rates. Despite the fact that in both countries there are very few restrictive measures, most people are very careful. Citizens enjoy life in crowded restaurants and bars, but when on the streets they almost always wear a protective mask. At the same time, the authorities in Portugal and Spain remain vigilant. So the Madrid police are examining the mandatory use of masks in shops and malls at Christmas time, while today in Lisbon the cabinet is meeting to assess the situation and possible measures in view of the holidays.

From good to better tourism

The Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism, Rita Markes, is proud of Portugal’s success in the fight against the pandemic, in her contacts in Germany with airlines and travel agents aimed at promoting tourism. The official told the German news agency dpa: “We know that Germans prefer safe tourist destinations. “Portugal is the first country to introduce the Clean and Safe certification, which has been received by 22,000 tourism companies across the country.”

Spanish and Portuguese tourism agents could not be more satisfied with the developments. According to the Secretary General of the Portuguese Ministry of Tourism, the recovery of tourism is “in full swing”. However, not everyone celebrates the herds of German tourists in the tourist resorts of the Iberian Peninsula. Portuguese cartoonist Luis Alfonso, whose protagonist Bartoon has been commenting on political and economic developments in the Público newspaper for almost 30 years, jokingly wonders about Rita Marquez’s tour abroad: “But it is not the Germans who have so much ; »

Emilio Rapold, dpa

Edited by: Stefanos Georgakopoulos

DW

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