MADRID– Quarantine for people in Spain who have asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 was reduced from 10 days to seven on Wednesday to relieve pressure on public health service.

A medical worker gives treatment to a COVID-19 patient at a hospital in Barcelona, Spain, Dec. 22, 2021. (Photo by Francisco Avia/Xinhua)

The decision was taken by the Spanish Ministry of Health, and representatives of the country’s 17 Autonomous regions at the weekly meeting of the Public Health Commission.

The Commission also agreed that close contacts of positive cases will have to spend seven days in quarantine if they are not vaccinated. However, vaccinated contacts are not obliged to isolate.

It is hoped the new measures could relieve some pressure on the Spanish Public Health Service, which has been badly affected by the recent wave of new cases.

The Health Ministry reports that over 5,000 health workers were infected with COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to Dec. 23, with an average of 370 new cases a day. Reducing obligatory quarantine time would allow some of those workers to return by the start of the New Year.

The Commission also agreed to reduce attendance at sporting events to 75 percent for events held in outdoor stadiums, and 50 percent for those held inside.

The measures came a day after Spain recorded a total of 6 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The Spanish Ministry of Health reported 99,671 new cases for the 24-hour period between 2 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, with 114 deaths also confirmed during that time.

This brought the total number of cases to 6,032,297 since the start of the pandemic, while the number of people who have lost their lives has risen to 89,253.

Meanwhile, the 14-day incidence of the virus leaped by 154 points to 1,360.62 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, setting a new record after Monday’s previous high.