The coronavirus arrived without making a sound, and it spread over weeks without making itself noticed. But once its effect was evident, the virus has followed the script: thousands of pneumonia cases among seniors, a flood of patients in Spain’s intensive care units, and hundreds of deaths. That’s the situation in the Madrid region, which has been the hardest hit in Spain by the pandemic, with nearly 400 deaths registered up until Wednesday.
“We didn’t expect such a fast rise in hospital admissions,” explains a doctor from La Paz hospital in the Spanish capital. “But the profile of the patient is that which we saw in China: older people with previous conditions, such as lung diseases, diabetes, heart problems…”
Thirteen percent of patients in the Madrid region required intensive care, and 88 died in 24 hours
In total, there were 3,006 patients being treated across 35 hospitals and clinics on Monday, with public and private healthcare centers now under the control of the central Health Ministry as per the state of alarm approved on Saturday by the Cabinet.
Thirteen percent of patients in the Madrid region required intensive care, and 88 died in 24 hours – data that illustrates the severity of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, with a death every 16 minutes. These figures do not include the deaths in senior homes.
According to the daily figures supplied by the Health Ministry, on Monday there were 4,871 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 disease, with a rate of 72.4 infections per 100,000 inhabitants. “These figures are nowhere close to the real number of people who are infected,” explained a source from a major hospital, who reported having seen colleagues end up with the virus “one after the other” in the last week.
Experts said that it is impossible to estimate the total number of infected in Madrid, but that the figure is in the tens of thousands.
These figures are nowhere close to the real number of people who are infectedSource from a major hospital
To improve the situation, Jordi Colomer, a former manager of several major hospitals in Catalonia, said that measures already implemented in China could be used in Spain, such as the creation of “clean hospitals” where patients who do not have coronavirus could be treated. “This would allow for the concentration of cases in other centers, easing management and reducing risks,” he added. “The current dispersion, with infected patients in all hospitals, some with very few cases, is very hard to manage.”
A nurse from the Virgen de la Torre hospital in Vallecas, which has barely a hundred beds and 26 coronavirus deaths up to Monday, explained that they have dedicated an entire floor just to Covid-19. “In the conditions in which we are working, it’s highly possible that while the neighbors are applauding us every night, health staff are spreading the virus all over the place,” she complains.
English version by Simon Hunter.