Lifting COVID-19 mitigation measures in Spain (May-June 2020)

Enferm Infecc Microbiol Clin (Engl Ed). 2021 Jun 12;S0213-005X(21)00195-6. doi: 10.1016/j.eimc.2021.05.011. Online ahead of print.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction: The state of alarm was declared in Spain due to the COVID-19 epidemic on March 14, 2020, and established population confinement measures. The objective is to describe the process of lifting these mitigation measures.

Methods: The Plan for the Transition to a New Normality, approved on April 28, contained four sequential phases with progressive increase in socio-economic activities and population mobility. In parallel, a new strategy for early diagnosis, surveillance and control was implemented. A bilateral decision mechanism was established between the Spanish Government and the autonomous communities (AC), guided by a set of qualitative and quantitative indicators capturing the epidemiological situation and core capacities. The territorial units were established ad-hoc and could be from Basic Health Zones to entire AC.

Results: The process run from May 4 to June 21, 2020. AC implemented plans for reinforcement of core capacities. Incidence decreased from a median (50% of territories) of 7.4 per 100,000 in 7 days at the beginning to 2.5 at the end. Median PCR testing increased from 53% to 89% of suspected cases and PCR total capacity from 4.5 to 9.8 per 1000 inhabitants weekly; positivity rate decreased from 3.5% to 1.8%. Median proportion of cases with traced contacts increased from 82% to 100%.

Conclusion: Systematic data collection, analysis, and interterritorial dialogue allowed adequate process control. The epidemiological situation improved but, mostly, the process entailed a great reinforcement of core response capacities nation-wide, under common criteria. Maintaining and further reinforcing capacities remained crucial for responding to future waves.

Keywords: COVID-19; Capacidades; Confinamiento; Confinement; Coronavirus; Deconfinement; Desescalada; Health sector capacity; Mitigación; Mitigation; Pandemia; Pandemic.