PEDRO Sanchez has admitted that coronavirus measures could be tightened over the Christmas period if figures continue to worsen.
The Spanish prime minister made the comments this morning after several days of a rebound in infection rates across a majority of the country’s autonomous regions.
“It is up to us and us alone to stop a third wave after Christmas,” the PSOE leader told MPs in his appearance at the Congress of Deputies (Spanish parliament).
“If the Christmas plan must be toughened, there is no doubt that that is what the Government will advise all regional leaders to do.”
It comes as the latest statistics suggest a reassuring November and first week of December are being undone following the long bank holiday weekend from December 4 to 8.
“We cannot lower our guard, in recent days we have seen a worrying increase in the number of cases,” Sanchez added, “We need one last effort.”
Under the current plan, between December 23 and January 6, people in Spain will be allowed to travel to any other region to visit and stay with family or an ‘allegado’ (close friend/loved one).
But that now seems to be up in the air, with Sanchez hinting that the population will need to make more sacrifices.
“Let’s not throw everything away,” he added, “It is up to us to make sure there is no third wave.
“We overcame the first wave with a lot of effort and if we do not lower our guard we will overcome this second one.”
The leader made it clear that the Christmas measures, which also include allowing for meetings of up to 10 non-cohabitants, would be up for modification if things don’t improve over the next few days, risking Christmas plans for millions.
He added: “Christmas is a family holiday and one of affection. But the best way to prevent infections is to act as if we are infected. The best gift is safety. Taking care of ourselves keeps us safe… during these holidays it will be decided whether or not we avoid a third wave and successfully vaccinate.”
It comes after experts told the Ministry of Health that a vaccination campaign starting within weeks will not be enough to stop a third wave caused by a potential high level of transmission over Christmas.
The mass contagion may have even already begun following the long bank holiday weekend which saw thousands return home to see family.
“Thanks to the arrival of the vaccine we are seeing the beginning of the end of the pandemic, but the vaccine is not the same as vaccination,” Sanchez said, adding that the start of the jab programme will not lower the incidence rate in itself as the first vials will only serve a small part of the population.
The vaccination programme is currently scheduled to start on January 4 but that could be moved forward after the European Medicines Agency fast tracked its approval date for the Pfizer formula from December 29 to 21.