CORONAVIRUS

Health Ministry reports no daily coronavirus deaths for second day running

Director of Center for Health Alerts admits that it is “not very logical” for there still to be discrepancies between official data and that of the regions

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, during Tuesday’s press conference.
Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, during Tuesday’s press conference.Moncloa / JM Cuadrado / EFE

For the second day running, the Health Ministry reported no new coronavirus deaths in Spain on Tuesday. It did, however, communicate a rise in infections, which came in at 137 in the last 24 hours, compared to 71 the previous day.

Since the start of the crisis, there have been 27,127 Covid-19-related fatalities according to the official figures supplied by the government, which are based on cases where PCR tests have been carried out. Total confirmed infections are currently at 239,932.

The figures should be viewed with some caution, as the Health Ministry is still in the process of updating the historical series of the data, and is now offering the number of fatalities over the last seven days. This number came in at 34 on Tuesday.

The number of fatalities is very positive and there are fewer and fewer patients in intensive care
Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts

It also emerged last week that between March 1 and May 12, Spain recorded 43,295 more deaths than what would be considered normal for this time of the year, based on past mortality rates. This is up 52% from the expected deaths for the period.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday to present the latest figures, Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, called for prudence over the figures as one of Spain’s regions may have had problems sending the data to the central government.

But, he continued, “the number of fatalities is very positive and there are fewer and fewer patients in intensive care.”

The Health Ministry has said that the revision being carried out is aimed at better tracking the current state of the epidemic, given that Spain is currently in the deescalation phase of confinement conditions.

The biggest change was seen last Monday, when the number of official fatalities was reduced by 2,000, due to duplications and other factors, the ministry explained.

“The total data on fatalities will be updated once a week and that will happen soon,” explained Simón on Tuesday. “We are going to update [the figures] in the coming days, and next week they will be updated once more.”

Simón also admitted on Tuesday that it is “not very logical” that there continue to be discrepancies between the number of fatalities offered by his department and those that are supplied on a daily basis by the regions themselves. “At the end of the day [we] are using the data that they send us,” he said, when quizzed by journalists about the fact that coronavirus deaths have been announced by regional governments over recent days.

“It’s true that the regions have given us data up to midday,” he said, in relation to the totals that the Health Ministry makes public at around 5pm. “It might be that there are modifications that we have not collected,” he continued.

Simón insisted, however, that the data on deaths, while still very “painful,” is not the most important factor at the moment in terms of monitoring the epidemic. “As teams, to control infections, we are interested in the number of suspected cases, the number of PCR [tests] that are carried out, how many of them are positive and the time between the start of symptoms and when these people are diagnosed and isolated,” he explained. “And the number of contacts that are being monitored," he added, in reference to the containment measures needed to avoid any new outbreaks of the virus.

Most infections in Madrid

Of the new infections reported on Tuesday, more than half were detected in the Madrid region, which has been worst hit by the coronavirus crisis in Spain. Catalonia saw 17 positives, while Andalusia registered 12. Four territories did not register a single new case: Asturias, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León and Galicia.

Eight regions have not reported a single death in the last week. They are: the Balearic Islands, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Ceuta, Melilla, Madrid, Murcia and Navarre. The region that has seen the most coronavirus fatalities this last week is Catalonia, with nine, followed by Castilla y León with six.

According to the latest Health Ministry data, 11 coronavirus patients have been admitted to intensive care in the last week, while 243 people have been hospitalized. In total, 11,413 people have been treated in ICUs since the crisis began, while 123,974 have been hospitalized.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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