Three in four new coronavirus cases diagnosed in Madrid and Catalonia

The Spanish Health Ministry recorded 39 coronavirus-related fatalities over the past seven days, bringing the official number of victims to 27,118

Health workers in Málaga observe a minute of silence for the victims of coronavirus in Spain.
Health workers in Málaga observe a minute of silence for the victims of coronavirus in Spain.Álex Zea / Europa Press

According to the latest figures from the Spanish Health Ministry, 75% of new coronavirus cases on Wednesday were diagnosed in Madrid and Catalonia. Of the 231 new infections, 174 were reported by the two regions.

Up until Monday, the Health Ministry had reported the sum number of new coronavirus infections. This figure, however, included old cases that had only recently been diagnosed due to delays, for example, in test results. In an effort to provide a more accurate picture of the transmission rate, health authorities now record how many infections have been diagnosed since the previous day.

According to Wednesday’s figures, the Spanish Health Ministry recorded 39 coronavirus-related fatalities over the past seven days, bringing the total number of victims to 27,118. This is just one more above Tuesday’s figure of 27,117.

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, said Wednesday that the level of coronavirus transmission was “very low,” but warned that the small spikes in infections detected in some areas in Spain could lead to larger outbreaks. “Moving phases [on the coronavirus deescalation plan] does not imply that there is zero risk. An outbreak that happens because of a small, innocent party could be the beginning of another epidemic,” he said. “If the [confinement] measures are being relaxed slowly it’s for a reason. If we are not all in Phase 3 it’s because we have to go slowly.”

On the source of the new infections, Simón said that there could have been transmission among asymptomatic cases who have been able to maintain “networks within the family and the workplace.” According to the health official, as Spain continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown rules, these cases have likely led to new outbreaks, like those seen in the Catalan province of Lleida and the southeastern region of Murcia. In the case of the former, the outbreak was traced to a birthday party which was attended by 20 people, despite the lockdown limits on social gatherings. Four of the guests had Covid-19 and ended up infecting the rest of the partygoers.

The data published on Wednesday by the Health Ministry is difficult to compare with last week’s figures given the change in the way that information is reported. Where before it was provided in an aggregate manner, it is now collected on an individual basis that provides more detail about each specific case, including the date of diagnosis and when symptoms began. Although this new system offers a more accurate way to calculate the number of new daily infections, it has broken the historical series and made it difficult to make comparisons with earlier figures.

The number of daily hospital admissions is also unknown – only the weekly figure is reported. According to the latest figures, 283 patients were hospitalized in the last seven days. Although most of these admissions took place in Madrid (88) and Catalonia (54), the number was more evenly spread, with Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Andalusia and Aragón reporting more than a dozen hospital admissions. In this same period, 13 people were admitted into intensive care across Spain.

The change in reporting methodology has also led to significant revisions of the official figures. On Monday, the Spanish Health Ministry removed nearly 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths from the official count.

One in five coronavirus hospital patients died from virus

The Spanish Society of Internist Medicine (SEMI) on Wednesday published the preliminary results of a study into 12,200 coronavirus patients at 150 hospitals. According to the results, one in five coronavirus patients admitted to hospital died from the virus. The research also highlighted the deadly impact of the virus on senior hospital patients. In the 50-to-59 age bracket, four in 100 patients did not survive the disease. This rose to 42.5% for patients over 80 and more than 50% for those over 90. The research is based on the information that doctors must fill out for each patient, which includes more than 300 variables.

More than 19,000 deaths in Spain’s care homes

A total of 19,194 people have died of coronavirus or with associated symptoms at residences run by Spain’s social services, according to a tally made by EL PAÍS using figures provided by regional governments. According to this tally, nearly 36,000 residents at these homes have contracted the virus.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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