CORONAVIRUS

Spanish Health Ministry reports 39 coronavirus-related deaths in last week

Official figures put the overall death toll at 27,121, but the government is currently revising the historical series to “guarantee the quality of the information”

A healthcare worker at the Severo Ochoa hospital in Leganés, during a tribute to a nurse who died from the coronavirus.
A healthcare worker at the Severo Ochoa hospital in Leganés, during a tribute to a nurse who died from the coronavirus.Ricardo Rubio / Europa Press

The Spanish Health Ministry on Friday reported 39 coronavirus-related deaths in the last week. The official tally for fatalities related to Covid-19 now stands at 27,121. That figure rose by two deaths from Thursday to Friday.

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, explained on Friday that the ministry is changing the way that it is tracking the statistics related to the epidemic, and in its daily report is only including the victims who actually passed away on the previous day, and not those who had actually died days or weeks previously but whose deaths have only just been included in the official statistics.

All of Spain’s territories, apart from the North African exclave city of Melilla, registered new infections in the last 24 hours, to a total of 187. Over recent days up to eight territories had not reported a single new case. Madrid and Catalonia saw the most infections according to Friday’s figure, with 61 in the former and 47 in the latter.

The ministry is holding deaths notified by the regions since last Monday in a kind of limbo, without attributing them to a specific date

Since Monday, the ministry has been presenting the data in a different way, making it impossible to observe trends. According to Simón, the aim of rebuilding the historical series is to “guarantee the quality of the information.” Meanwhile, the data – including the number of fatalities – does not reflect the reality of the situation, as Simón admitted on Friday. The ministry is holding deaths notified by the regions since last Monday in a kind of limbo, without attributing them to a specific date. This data will be incorporated into the totals once the historical series have been corrected, the coordinator explained, and could be ready by Wednesday.

Simón explained that the new methodology is more precise and allows the ministry to better observe the progress of the epidemic in recent days. “What interests us are the cases that are coming up now,” he said. The coordinator added that the regions are currently carrying out the more reliable PCR tests on 85% of suspected cases that arrive at primary healthcare centers. Just days ago the majority of regions were not managing 50%, according to reports published by the ministry on the requests for phase changes during the country’s ongoing deescalation plan.

One of the new sections will be the most useful for controlling the progress of the epidemic, according to Simón. The data focuses on cases diagnosed with symptoms that began in the last seven days. This figure has been gradually rising over recent days, from 0.42 per 100,000 inhabitants on Tuesday, to 0.58 on Friday. In total, 276 people in Spain began presenting symptoms over the past week.

According to Andrea Burón, the spokesperson from the Spanish Society for Public Health and Health Administration (Sespas), there has been a small uptick in some regions as the deescalation process progresses. “This can be indirectly correlated, but it is difficult to establish a cause-effect relationship,” she said. “It’s logical that it would happen, but we have to monitor it.”

Imported cases

Since May 11, when a new “track and trace” strategy was introduced, 25 imported cases of coronavirus have been detected – i.e. people who were infected in another country and who traveled to Spain carrying the virus. Simón explained on Friday that there are 22 contacts being investigated, among them those who flew on the same plane as someone with the virus.

Healthcare workers

For the first time, the Health Ministry has included details of infections among medical workers on its daily report. Since the beginning of the epidemic, a total of 51,482 health staff have tested positive, which is 21% of the total. However, it should be noted that as well as being the sector that is most exposed to the virus, these employees have also been subject to more testing than the rest of the population.

Since May 11, the date from which there is data broken down by region, 1,062 health professionals have tested positive for the coronavirus. Of these, the majority were in Catalonia (416), Madrid (168), and Castilla-La Mancha (152).

A total of 43,760 healthcare workers have recovered from the disease and have been discharged from hospital, while 7,722 are on sick leave. There are 4,730 medical staff currently hospitalized, and 631 in intensive care units (ICUs). A total of 63 healthcare professionals have died in Spain, accounting for 0.15% of total victims in the country.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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