WITH first the Fallas and Magdalena fiestas and then Easter looming in the Valencian Community, medical experts are insisting on the importance of taking the right steps to avoid a fatal ‘fourth wave’ of COVID infections.

Maintaining the perimeter closure around the region throughout the whole of March and April, as well as the nocturnal curfew and limitations on indoor gatherings are the main guidelines.

Spokespeople for the regional Public Health and Preventive Medicine institutes have admitted that the restriction on using the interior areas of bars and restaurants is detrimental to business, but insist that the measure is ‘beneficial for the future’.

The consensus is that the best option is to keep everything on hold for as long as possible to allow the vaccination campaign to take hold.

Plans for mass inoculations in April and May are hailed as a great opportunity to begin scaling down the restrictions, with hopes for a better summer campaign than last year.

The Valencian authorities suggest that once everyone over the age of 50 has been vaccinated, and if there are no major complications caused by new strains of the virus, ‘the outlook is very good’.

But to get there, ‘sacrifices must be made over the next two months’, they add.

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The perimeter closures are one of the measures that are leading to a drastic reduction in COVID cases

Fears of a potential fourth wave are not unfounded. The combination of factors such as having a low percentage of the population with immunity, the various new strains in circulation, and the threat of a loosening of restrictions – and of personal responsibility – over the holidays does not paint a very hopeful picture.  

Some experts are predicting that a fourth wave is inevitable, with the only question remaining whether it will break out this month or at the beginning of April.

However, the good news is that the current measures seem to be working. Public health sources point out that the perimeter closures, nocturnal curfew and the outside-only obligation for bars and restaurants have enabled a rapid fall in new COVID cases without having to resort to the drastic measures applied last March, such as home lockdowns.

The same sources insist that there is still room for improvement, as the current network of infection tracers should ideally be increased by at least 50%.

In addition, the fact that emergency wards were the worst-hit by the surge in cases is proof that the system needs reinforcing, say the experts.

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