Nearly 70 Medical Staffers at a Spanish Hospital Test Positive for COVID After Holiday Party

Staff at the University Regional Hospital in the city Malaga have tested positive for the virus following a holiday party at a local restaurant, according to reports

Doctors and nurses employed at a Spanish hospital have contracted coronavirus after attending a large Christmas party last week, according to reports.

The Andalusian regional government revealed 68 medics from the University Regional Hospital in Malaga in southern Spain tested positive for COVID after attending a Christmas party on Dec. 1, according to Reuters.

The infected staff reportedly all work in the hospital's intensive care unit and were among 173 people who attended the party, which was held at a restaurant. The 68 infected workers were all tested or were fully vaccinated with boosters ahead of the party, Reuters said.

The cause of the outbreak is still under investigation.

Per the BBC, local health officials had advised hospital staff not to attend holiday parties due to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Breakthrough cases — COVID-19 infections that occur in people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus — are possible and expected, as the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infections. Still, vaccinated people who test positive will likely be asymptomatic or experience a far milder illness than if they were not vaccinated. The majority of deaths from COVID-19 — around 98 to 99% — are in unvaccinated people.

University Regional Hospital in Malaga
Google Maps

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez urged the public to use caution regarding COVID ahead of the holidays, telling reporters in Madrid, "We must not lower our guard," CNN reported.

On Nov. 29, Spain announced its first confirmed case of the Omicron variant, with seven cases reported since.

"The microbiology service of the Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid reports the first confirmation of the omicron variant in Spain. This is a traveler from South Africa," the institution shared on Twitter.

Last week, Carolina Darias, Spain's health minister, ruled against making COVID vaccines mandatory across the country due to high vaccination rates. Instead, Darias simply urged methods of precaution like "masks being mandatory inside and outside when safe distance cannot be maintained."

"I understand why countries with a low vaccine coverage are planning it," she said. "But in Spain, we are one of the leading countries for vaccination in Europe and the world."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

Related Articles