Carolina Darias (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 55 years old) received the portfolio of Minister of Health on the day that the highest cumulative incidence of covid cases was recorded in Spain. It was January 27 and there were 899.9 diagnoses per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days.
Since then, the trend of infections has not stopped decreasing and she has maintained a continuity line with her predecessor, Salvador Illa, in which she tries to avoid confrontation and seek consensus.
But in this interview he slides that in the recent past mistakes were made that he now wants to avoid, such as the Christmas measures, after which the third wave arrived. With her eyes fixed on the curve and on vaccines, the minister says she is hopeful that there will not be a fourth wave in Spain.
Ask. What evolution do you foresee in the coming weeks?
Answer. We are entering a valley area . The cumulative incidence at seven days tells us that this is going to be the scenario.
Q. Will there be a fourth wave?
R. We will work so that no. It is the objective of those of us who make up the Interterritorial Council: to continue working so that the accumulated incidence, in the best of scenarios, continues to decline, albeit slowly and, if not, to continue.
P. The objective of the ministry is to lower than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. If May 9 is not achieved, will you raise the state of alarm?
R. I want us to focus on the current and immediate scenario, which means continuing to maintain a very gradual de-escalation. It is very important to learn from lived experience.
P. The measures of Easter are much stricter than those of Christmas. Does it imply acknowledging that they were wrong?
R. What it implies is that we adapt decision-making to experience. It is clear that after Christmas we have had a very important increase in cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions. The measures that we have adopted in the Interterritorial Council have to do with this diagnosis and with learning from the third wave.
Q. Before Christmas, EL PAÍS consulted with a score of experts, with medical societies, and they all anticipated what would happen with those measures . Why didn’t the ministry do it?
A. We were at a low incidence, one of the lowest since the summer. The important thing today is to look ahead, to the future and give a message of certainty to citizens. The policy is to give certainty and confidence, from a coordinated action, from a common minimum of understanding of those who are at the forefront of health responsibility, and that is what we have wanted to do now with that great agreement for the feast of San José and Easter.
Q. How do you explain to Spaniards that someone who lives in another country can go to the Canary Islands and someone who lives in Madrid cannot?
A. We have very strict measures, requiring a negative PCR 72 hours before arrival. What’s more, we have restricted flights from the UK, Brazil and South Africa to protect the epidemiological situation especially in the face of variants. And in addition, we have established quarantine orders for people who come from countries with high incidence. A foreigner from the EU who comes can only go to the community they are in and will have the same restrictions as any Spanish citizen.
P. But it is difficult for citizens to accept that foreigners can go anywhere in Spain and they cannot.
R. We cannot close our country outside the EU. There are some control measures in airports that are working, quarantine, and measures of course that are within the established scope and the EU recommendations.
P. Madrid has announced that the closure of the community imposed by the Interterritorial Council will appeal to justice .
R. This minister is not going to be with those who face, but with those who add, with those who want to advance. I believe that the legal controversy in this case is sterile. It is mandatory both de jure and de facto , because we are facing a declaration of coordinated actions and because, in any case, the entire country will be closed perimeter.
I want to make a call to understanding, because together we advance further and go further. And that has been the majority sentiment of all the councilors of different political backgrounds. The protagonist cannot be the one who disagrees.
P. The royal decree of the state of alarm says that the presidents of the communities are the delegated authorities. THE COUNTRY has consulted with several jurists who support this point.
R. There is a statement of coordinated actions that is mandatory. The practically unanimous agreement of all the advisers and advisers was that, to continue saving lives. And I also believe that there is a vast majority of citizens that are convinced and aware of the need to stay in our autonomous community.
Q. How is your relationship with the Community of Madrid?
R. He is excellent with each and every counselor. I speak to them several times a week.
Q. When Madrid takes initiatives of this type, doesn’t it undermine your confidence?
A. Confidence is not affected by me. Each one knows how to act.
Q. Are you convinced that vaccines will arrive to immunize 70% of the population in summer?
A. We knew that the first quarter was going to be a limited arrival. And we know by contract that from the second quarter there will be a significant increase. The projection cannot be linear because there is going to be a jump. We are at a very important turning point and a horizon of hope.
We are seeing in residences a spectacular drop in fatality among those over 65 years of age. The quality of life and happiness that has been returned to the elderly, to both health and non-health workers .