Spain’s coronavirus deaths soar past 1,000, while infections rise to nearly 20,000

Health authorities warn that the figures may not indicate the true scale of the local transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus

Members of the Emergency Military Unit disinfect a train station in Granada.
Members of the Emergency Military Unit disinfect a train station in Granada.FERMÍN RODRÍGUEZ

The latest figures from the Health Ministry on Friday put the number of coronavirus infections in Spain at 19,988, with 1,141 patients in intensive care and 1,002 dead.

Speaking to the press on Friday, Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, said that the number of cases had risen by 16.5%, which was “substantially lower” than the 25% spike in infections reported on Thursday.

The health expert, however, warned that the figures may not be an accurate reflection of the local transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“In some communities, the suspicion is that the local transmission is greater than what is indicated by the figures,” said Simón. “We are not able to report on cases that have not been confirmed, and we don’t have an objective idea of the community transmission. Studies are being done to understand the situation. It is very likely that the figures underestimate the total transmission.”

Simón added that the health authorities were doing everything possible to prevent coronavirus fatalities, but that in serious cases “death is a reality.” According to the health expert, 10,542 people have been hospitalized with the coronavirus (52% of the total number of infections), and 1,585 had been cured.

When asked why Germany had a lower fatality rate from the Covid-19, Simón replied: “I cannot explain it [...] We are making an effort to understand it, [to see whether] if it is the reality or if are there discrepancies in the methodology.” As of Friday morning, Germany had 13,957 confirmed cases of coronavirus, but only 31 deaths.

The Madrid region recorded the highest number of cases, with 7,165 patients testing positive for the virus, 44.1% of the total in Spain. As of Friday, the northern Basque Country had 1,465 cases.

Lockdown in Spain

Spanish authorities congratulated citizens on Friday for their efforts in observing the stay-at-home orders issued by the government on Saturday, following the declaration of a state of alarm that placed the entire country on lockdown.

“Yesterday [on Thursday] I spoke about discipline. I have to congratulate all Spaniards, who have been behaving like soldiers at this time,” said Miguel Ángel Villarroya, the defense chief of staff. “In this strange war, we are all soldiers. Everyone has a role to play.”

María José Rallo, the secretary general of the Transportation Ministry, said that the confinement orders were being respected, noting that occupancy had fallen to 14% on the intercity Cercanías train line, with respect to a normal day, and to 2% for medium and long-distance train services.

The joint operational director of the National Police, José Ángel González, warned, however, that the number of arrests for disobeying the state of alarm was on the rise. Since the decree came into effect, 157 people have been arrested for breaching the restrictions on movement. “We are going to increase the number of patrols at transportation hubs to avoid crowds. We will strengthen the surveillance of the exits and entry points into other cities,” he said.

Simón added that “we are coming up to a week since the implementation of the decree. The most difficult days that must be endured are upon us.”

English version by Melissa Kitson.


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