CORONAVIRUS

Daily coronavirus deaths in Spain fall to 523, with slight rise in rate of new infections

The death toll since the outbreak began now stands at 18,579, with confirmed cases reaching 177,633

Volunteers carry out coronavirus tests in a Barcelona residence for seniors.
Volunteers carry out coronavirus tests in a Barcelona residence for seniors.Quique García / EFE

The number of daily coronavirus fatalities registered by the Spanish Health Ministry came in at 523 on Wednesday, slightly down from the day before.

According to the latest figures, new infections rose in the last 24 hours by 3% of the total, to reach 177,633 since the outbreak began in Spain – a slight rise in the contagion rate. New infections came in at 3,045 on Tuesday, which was a 1.8% rise on the total and the lowest rate seen so far in Spain during the coronavirus crisis.

We hope that the number of cured patients soon exceeds those of new cases
Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts

The rise in new infections detected may be due to an effect that the experts have been awaiting: the increase in testing being carried out in Spain. In the last two weeks, the Health Ministry has distributed two million rapid tests among the country’s regions, in order to speed up the detection of cases.

The rise could also, of course, be due to the delays in reporting from the weekend and the Easter break. But that would suggest that there would be a spike in the number of patients being discharged from hospital – something that is not reflected in today’s figures.

There have been 18,579 coronavirus-related deaths registered by the Spanish health authorities so far, while 70,850 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospital.

The number of daily deaths in Spain peaked on April 2, when there were 950. Since then, the trend has slowly been decreasing, albeit with several upticks in particular after weekends and public holidays, which have seen underreporting of cases.

On Tuesday there were 567 registered fatalities, with 517 on Monday, 619 on Sunday and 510 on Saturday. The Easter weekend may account for some of these fluctuations over recent days.

Speaking at the daily government press conference on the coronavirus crisis, Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, addressed the data released today.

“There is a falling trend in the fatalities, although there continue to be many,” he said. “This is solid progress. We are starting to detect mild cases, and the regions have been increasing their diagnostic capacity [...]. We have started to receive this information from the regions. We are going to have an increase in cases because of this [...]. If you combine this with the fact that this is the first [full working] day [in Spain] after Easter week, this has seen the number of infections rise, for these two reasons. In the coming three days, it is going to be very difficult interpreting this data until it can be refined. But even with this rise, the increase in infections was below 3%. We hope that the number of cured patients soon exceeds those of new cases.”

Senior deaths in Madrid

According to the health chief in Madrid, a total of 2,280 seniors have died in the region with symptoms of the Covid-19 disease, while 616 people who are suspected to have contracted the virus have died in their homes, while four died in the street. The official figures from the Health Ministry reflect 6,568 coronavirus deaths, but that total rises to 10,017 when the aforementioned cases are included.

Health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero said on Tuesday that the number of coronavirus deaths outside of hospitals is no doubt greater given the delay between the notification of these fatalities and their registration by the health system.

Nursing staff infections

Just under a third of the 255,000 nursing staff who are fighting the coronavirus in Spain may have become infected, according to the preliminary results of a mass survey being carried out by a nursing association. Just under 28% of the more than 7,500 health workers questioned said that they have or have had Covid-19 symptoms.

Based on this data the Nursing Association estimates that 70,000 nurses could be affected. Those surveyed also reported that 22.7% had been tested for the coronavirus, and 32% came back positive. Three out of four nurses who were infected said that they believed they had picked up the virus while working, with 35.1% blaming the lack of personal protective equipment and 41% saying it was due to caring for undiagnosed patients.

Temporary residence in Barcelona

In Barcelona, a temporary residence with full medical facilities was being put in place on Wednesday to help better treat seniors and dependents who have coronavirus. The regional health chief, Alba Vergés, explained on Tuesday that the facility will be located in Poble Sec and is being put in place after there were complaints from City Hall in the Catalan capital over the management of senior residences.

Vergés, who has had powers over these centers for the last week, explained that since the pandemic began, 480 seniors had been transferred in order to improve their care.

Mariano Rajoy

The Interior Ministry has said that it is going to investigate whether former Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy may have broken the lockdown in place in Spain in order to exercise. The former Popular Party politician, who was ousted from power by current PM Pedro Sánchez in a 2018 vote of no confidence, has been seen in images broadcast by Spanish TV channel La Sexta walking in sports clothing in the street near his home in Madrid.

Breaking news: According to what La Sexta has been told, Mariano Rajoy regularly breaks the lockdown.

With reporting by Ana Alfageme.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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