One of the largest COVID-19 clusters has emerged from the nightclub Babylonia in Córdoba, Andalusia, where around 400 people went to on July 10 to celebrate the end of the school year. 670 contacts have been put under medical surveillance since the first coronavirus case was reported.
As Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts says, infections at these sites “could involve people from multiple places that cause a diffuse transmission everywhere that they have been.”
Several other COVID-19 outbreaks across the country have been reported due to parties and nighttime events involving alcohol. These include an end of the year party in Zarautz in the Basque Country and nightlife activities in the regions of Murcia and Valencia.
Nighttime venues become a hot spot for virus spreading because they are poorly ventilated and often have loud music which makes people speak even louder. The addition of alcohol into the picture makes an already bad situation worse.
In an attempt to contain the virus from spreading through nighttime venues regional authorities have instituted new public health rules:
- The Catalan regional government closed all nighttime establishments (nightclubs and party halls, among others) in the 13 municipalities of Barcelona and its metropolitan area, two municipalities in Girona, and the comarcas – a traditional administrative division in parts of Spain – of La Noguera and Segrià.
- Regional authorities in Galicia have banned outdoor alcohol consumption.
- The Basque Country government has reduced the maximum capacity of people allowed inside bars and nightclubs.
- In Valencia, authorities have closed all nighttime venues in Gandía after COVID-19 cases rose rapidly.
Miguel Hernán, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, stresses the importance of young people also being cautious of the virus. While older people are affected more negatively from the virus they can become infected from young people. Therefore it was important for youth to not get infected and pass the virus on to older people who could possibly die from the infection.
I understand that those who suffer more from the disease should be more cautious, but those who suffer less should not be less cautious, because they are the ones who will suffer more economically if we return to confinement,” said Professor Miguel Hernán from Harvard University.Professor Miguel Hernán, Harvard University
While the regional governments have started to restrict the nightlife, a coordinated national effort including alcohol availability regulation may result in better management of the situation in Spain.
Already in April, the World Health Organization released guidance for countries to enforce measures which limit alcohol consumption – and thus help fight the novel coronavirus.