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Europe considers new Covid strategy: Accepting the virus

Madrid, January 20

When the Covid pandemic was first declared, Spaniards were ordered to stay home for more than three months. Officials credited the draconian measures with preventing a full collapse of the health system. Lives were saved, they argued.

Now, almost two years later, Spain is preparing to adopt a different Covid playbook.

With one of Europe’s highest vaccination rates and its most pandemic-battered economies, the government is laying the groundwork to treat the next infection surge not as an emergency but an illness that is here to stay. Similar steps are under consideration in neighbouring Portugal and the UK.

Spain’s centre-left PM Pedro Saacute;nchez wants the Europe Union to consider similar changes now that the surge of the Omicron variant has shown that the disease is becoming less lethal.

In Portugal, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa declared in a New Year’s speech that the country had “moved into an endemic phase”. But the debate over specific measures petered out as the spread soon accelerated to record levels — almost 44,000 cases on Tuesday. — AP

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