After small reprieve, daily coronavirus deaths spike in Spain once more

A total of 849 people have died from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, setting a new record. Infections are up 11% from Monday, to 94,417 cases

Workers setting up a field hospital near Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid on Tuesday.
Workers setting up a field hospital near Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid on Tuesday.JUANJO MARTÍN (EFE)
El País

The Spanish Health Ministry on Tuesday announced that a total of 849 people had died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, setting a new record for the number of fatalities in a day.

The total number of coronavirus deaths in Spain now stands at 8,189. Registered infections have risen to 94,417 after new cases had slowed over the last five days. A total of 5,607 patients have required intensive care treatment, while 19,259 patients have recovered from the Covid-19 disease and have been discharged from hospital.

By Monday, confirmed cases had reached 85,195, putting Spain ahead of China in terms of total infections since the crisis began. Today’s rise in total cases marks an 11% day-on-day increase, compared to an 8.1% and 9% rise over the past two days.

New high

A commuter riding a bus in downtown Barcelona last week.
A commuter riding a bus in downtown Barcelona last week.Marta Pérez (EFE)

The latest figures have dashed hopes that coronavirus deaths were on a downward trend in Spain, after 838 were registered on Sunday, and 812 on Monday. Spaniards have been confined to their homes since a state of alarm was decreed on March 14, and even stricter measures, suspending all non-essential activity in the economy, came into force on Monday given the ongoing rise in infections and deaths, and the congestion in Spanish intensive care units (ICUs).

Speaking at the daily press conference, María José Sierra from the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts said that the rise in cases – mostly registered in Catalonia in Madrid – could be attributed to an accumulation not yet accounted for from the weekend.

“Since March 25 we have detected a change, moving to a 12% increase in cases when before it was 20%,“ she added.

We cannot take new measures without first evaluating the impact of the measures we are currently implementing
Fernando Simón

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, also appeared at the press conference on Tuesday. One of the most visible faces of the government response to the crisis, Simón spoke via video-conference given that on Monday it was confirmed that he had contracted the coronavirus.

“I am doing well at the moment,” Simón told the press. “We have just had a weekend and that can cause delays in the notification of cases,” he added. “We are not seeing major changes in the trend. It would not make sense right now to consider new measures. We cannot take new measures without first evaluating the impact of the measures we are currently implementing.”

María José Sierra went on to explain that Spain’s intensive care units were the government’s main concern right now. “In absolute terms, we have had 334 new UCI admissions since yesterday,” she said. “We are constantly looking at the needs of Spain’s regions. Medical resources have been moved [between regional health systems], after agreement was reached with each region.”

Sierra also offered information about the profile of the coronavirus victims in Spain. “In general, according to age, 85% are over 70. Sixty percent are over 80. The margin that we are seeing has been the same since the start [of the epidemic] and the same situation that has been seen in other countries.”

Sierra added that it is normal to see fluctuations in the fatality figures. “They are within what we expected,” she said. “By the end of the week we will have a clearer idea of how we are progressing. More [coronavirus] tests are being carried out.”

Mourning in Madrid

Flags at half mast at a regional government building in Madrid.
Flags at half mast at a regional government building in Madrid. Joaquin Corchero (Europa Press)

Madrid premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso announced today via Twitter that a total of 9,300 coronavirus patients have been discharged from hospital so far. The region has been hardest hit in Spain by the virus.

The Madrid government today began an official state of mourning, with flags flying at half mast in honor of the thousands of coronavirus victims the region has seen since the epidemic took hold.

Catalan separatist leaders

In Catalonia, nine pro-independence leaders who were jailed for their role in the 2017 secessionist drive could be released from prison while the health emergency continues. The Catalan Justice Department has called on prison directors in the region to analyze whether inmates who are currently on day release can be transferred to their homes in a bid to reduce prison populations and minimize the risk of contagion. This would mean that politicians such as Catalan Republican Left (ERC) leader Oriol Junqueras, who was deputy premier at the time of the illegal independence referendum, could spend the night in his home for the first time since his arrest in late 2017.

United States President Donald Trump announced that his country had received medical supplies needed to combat the coronavirus from a number of countries, including Russia and China. He added that he would donate equipment that the US does not need to Spain, Italy and France, countries that were, he stated, facing “big problems” in their fight against the virus.

On Monday, a Spanish military aircraft landed in the Madrid airport of Torrejón de Ardoz loaded with much-needed medical supplies, including a million rapid coronavirus tests. The plane left Spain on Saturday bound for Shanghai, China, where it collected the material.

Mother and newborn

Among the victims of the coronavirus in Spain is a 37-year-old pregnant woman and her newborn, who died on Sunday in A Coruña, Galicia. The woman’s family confirmed on Monday that she had no underlying health conditions, and that three days earlier an ultrasound scan of her unborn child had revealed no issues with the pregnancy. She was taken into hospital with a fever and tested positive for the coronavirus. When her condition worsened, an emergency C-section was carried out. Neither the woman nor her unborn daughter survived.

In Barcelona, a 57-year-old doctor named Antoni Feixa also died on Sunday from the coronavirus. Feixa had spent 15 years working at the Quirón Hospital in the Catalan capital. He had no underlying health conditions. Workers at the hospital, where he was being treated when he passed away, observed a minute of silence for their colleague on Monday.

Spanish opera singer Plácido Domingo, who announced last week that he had contracted the coronavirus, has been discharged from hospital in Acapulco, Mexico. In a statement released via Facebook, the world-famous tenor, who is 79, said that there had been a lot of confused and incorrect information reported about his state of health. He confirmed that he had received treatment for the Covid-19 disease and was continuing his recovery at home.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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