CORONAVIRUS

Catalonia notifies central government of 635 extra coronavirus deaths

Authorities admit that there has been an “error” in their tracking system, but denied that there has been a new outbreak in the region

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, during a press conference on Friday.
Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, during a press conference on Friday.Moncloa / Europa Press

The Catalan government notified the central Health Ministry on Friday of an extra 635 coronavirus-related deaths, which up until now had been registered by the regional authorities as unconfirmed cases of the virus. The notification of these cases, which brings the total of Covid-19-related deaths in Catalonia up to 6,656, caused “surprise” in the central government, according to Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts.

Simón said on Friday evening that there were “inconsistencies” in the region’s data, which have required a revision of the historical data being tracked by the Health Ministry. The regional government, however, denies any bad practices and said last night that “there is no unusual situation in Catalonia.”

The communication of the new data came a day after Catalan authorities failed to supply their daily coronavirus numbers to the central government

The notifications came after the Barcelona Public Health Agency validated coronavirus cases that until now had not been formally confirmed, and as such did not form part of the Health Ministry’s statistics. The notification of the extra cases came on the same day that the Health Ministry notified parts of Catalonia and a number of other areas in Spain that they would be able to move to Phase 1 of the government’s deescalation process from Monday onward.

“If this problem [of data communication] is not solved, we will have to have discussions at the highest level [between the central and regional administrations],” warned Simón on Friday.

The communication of the new data came a day after Catalan authorities failed to supply their daily coronavirus numbers to the central government, due to what was described as “an error in the tracking system.” On Friday, Catalonia confirmed just three fatalities, despite reporting dozens of cases on a daily basis.

Sources from the Catalan government said that “there will be more” than just the three deaths reported on Friday, “because every day we have new information,” a spokesperson said.

Via a statement, the regional health department insisted that it was aware of the real situation of the virus in Catalonia

Simón expressed his concern last night over the communication problems. “The evaluation of phase changes is based on the data that is given to us,” he said. “We thought that the data from last night [in reference to Thursday] was an occasional problem, but the data from today [Friday] has us concerned.”

Sources from the Catalan government, meanwhile, stated that no new outbreaks of the coronavirus have been detected in the region. Via a statement, the regional health department insisted that it was aware of the real situation of the virus in Catalonia. “The ministry requests some of the data that the department publishes on a daily basis and it interprets them,” the statement read. “But only the regional government is aware of the epidemiological reality in Catalonia.”

English version by Simon Hunter.

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