Spain's infection rate drops for first time in Omicron wave

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Elderly women wearing face masks walk along a street amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Madrid, Spain, January 12, 2022. REUTERS/Susana Vera

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MADRID, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Spain's coronavirus infection rate dropped for the first time in two and a half months, health ministry data showed on Tuesday, suggesting the Omicron variant's rapid-fire advance may be slowing.

Even as Spain reported over 94,400 new cases, the rate as measured over the preceding 14 days fell to 3,306 cases per 100,000 people from a record 3,397 cases on Wednesday, the first decline since Nov. 2 when it was below 50.

The seven-day rate fell even more sharply, to 1,522 from 1,657 per 100,000.

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Infections had climbed without interruption amid mass testing, turbo-charged by Omicron's elevated transmissibility and large swathes of the population mixing over Christmas. Hospital admissions remain well below those seen in earlier waves, however, thanks to Spain's high vaccination rates.

Hospital occupancy with COVID-19 patients was practically unchanged on Tuesday from Wednesday at just over 15%, while about a quarter of intensive care capacity was occupied.

So far in the pandemic, Spain has registered over 8.5 million infections and 91,277 deaths. The country has fully vaccinated some 80.5% of its 47 million population.

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Reporting by Andrei Khalip; editing by Grant McCool

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