OVIEDO, Spain

The latest figures by Spain’s Health Ministry suggest pressure is beginning to ease in many Spanish hospitals, while the number of new coronavirus infections continues its slow decline.

There are currently 18,961 COVID-19 patients being treated across the country, down from a peak of more than 21,000 last week.

Despite the drop, 15% of all the country’s hospital beds and 32% of all available intensive care units are still being used to help patients fight the infectious disease.

On Thursday, another 252 deaths were confirmed, bringing the official number of lives lost to COVID-19 in Spain to 42,291.

New infections were up slightly from Wednesday with more than 16,200 new confirmed cases, yet they are down by more than 3,000 compared to last Thursday and around 5,000 less than the daily surge two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, administration of the autonomous Galicia became the first Spanish regional government to take a position on making vaccines mandatory.

Its leader submitted a proposal to the Galician parliament, in which people who refuse to get vaccinated or take a coronavirus test would be fined as much as €3,000 ($3,554).

Earlier this week, Spain’s chief epidemiologist Fernando Simon said he believes vaccines will have enough voluntary take-up, and that making them obligatory could even be counterproductive.

A latest poll by the Center for Social Research (CIS) suggests only 37% of Spaniards would be willing to get vaccinated as soon as one is available.

On the other hand, 47% of those polled said they would not get a vaccine immediately.

Last month, when the same question was asked in the monthly survey – 44% of respondents said they wanted to be vaccinated as soon as possible, suggesting a seven point drop since Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna announced the safety and efficacy of their vaccines.

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