CORONAVIRUS

Spain reports 156 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours and 32 deaths in a week

The Spanish Health Ministry has still not updated the total number of victims, which stands at 27,136 for the fifth day running

A cooking student has her temperature taken at a restaurant in Madrid.
A cooking student has her temperature taken at a restaurant in Madrid.Ricardo Rubio / Europa Press

The Spanish Health Ministry reported on Thursday that 156 new coronavirus cases had been detected in the previous 24 hours. This is the second day in a row that the number of daily infections has been over 150, according to data provided by regional authorities to the central Health Ministry. The weekly trend, however, remains stable, with 245 cases first reporting coronavirus symptoms in the last seven days.

The Health Ministry has still not updated the total coronavirus death toll, which stands at 27,136 for the fifth consecutive day. According to the latest figures, there have been 32 coronavirus-related deaths in the last seven days. Most of these fatalities were recorded in Madrid (10) and Asturias (seven).

Although health authorities reported 32 deaths in the past week, just nine fatalities have been added to the official toll in the past month

Since May 11, when the Health Ministry changed the method for collecting data, the historical series on the number of Covid-19 fatalities has been updated at a very slow pace. Although authorities reported 32 deaths in the past week, just nine fatalities have been added to the official toll in the past month.

Health authorities changed the way they present the total number of victims, so that fatalities are ordered according to the date of death, and not the date of notification. There are thousands of deaths that are yet to be assigned to a specific date, and that are in a kind of limbo.

“We all known that there can be a delay of between one and two days in the notification of deaths, but it is clear that this delay has remained more or less stable in the last week and that we are seeing that the number of deaths is falling day by day,” said Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, at a government press conference on Thursday.

Simón added that Spain is detecting around 10,000 suspected coronavirus cases a day, of whom 90% are tested for the virus. “Despite the fact that we are detecting more [suspected cases], we are continuing to see a downward trend,” said Simón. “What we are interested in now is finding positive cases that are minor and asymptomatic and reducing them as early as possible.” According to the health official, screening centers catch between 30% and 40% of detected cases, meaning it is not possible to identify when the patients began to experience coronavirus symptoms.

The Health Ministry reported on Thursday that a total of 242,707 people have contracted the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the latest figures, 151 patients were admitted into hospital in the past week, 10 of whom required intensive care.

Outbreak in the Basque Country

A coronavirus outbreak linked to two hospitals in Basque Country has led to 36 new infections and three deaths. At the Basurto hospital in Bilbao, 29 people have tested positive for coronavirus and two have died, the regional government reported on Thursday. At the Txagorritxu hospital in Vitoria, another seven cases and one fatality have been recorded.

The outbreak has hampered plans to allow free movement between Spain’s northern regions of Galicia, Navarre, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country, which have all entered Phase 3 of the coronavirus deescalation plan. Regional authorities in both Asturias and Cantabria announced on Thursday that they would not support the initiative at this point in time.

Fewer than 1,000 seniors admitted into Madrid ICUs

Only 921 coronavirus patients over the age of 70 have been admitted into intensive care units (ICUs) in the Madrid region since March 1, according to Madrid premier, Isabel Díaz Ayuso. As of Thursday, a total of 3,694 people have been placed in intensive care. Of this figure, only 25% were over the age of 70. This is despite the fact that this age group makes up 87% of all deaths in the region – between 13,044 and 14,955.

The news comes amid revelations that Madrid regional officials issued protocols with criteria to exclude some nursing home residents from being transferred to hospitals at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to these internal documents, physicians at healthcare centers were also instructed to apply certain guidelines to determine whether ill people living in their own homes should receive home treatment instead of being taken to the hospital.

On Thursday, EL PAÍS revealed that these restrictions did not apply to nursing home residents with private health insurance who received treatment in private hospitals.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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