Spain reports 1,178 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours

The number of infections, deaths, hospitalizations and patients in intensive care continues to rise, with the cumulative rate of Covid-19 now nine times higher what it was in mid-June

A worker disinfects an area near a senior home in Burbáguena, Teruel.
A worker disinfects an area near a senior home in Burbáguena, Teruel.Antonio Garcia (EFE)

The Spanish Health Ministry reported on Tuesday that 1,178 Covid-19 cases had been detected in the previous 24 hours. The majority of the infections were recorded in the regions of Aragón and Madrid, with 365 and 292 cases respectively – more than half of the total.

Since Friday, Spain’s regions have detected 14,292 new infections, although there was missing data from Madrid, Catalonia and Navarre – some of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic in Spain – which blamed technical problems for their failure to report their figures.

There is also a discrepancy between the number of new cases and the total. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported a total of 302,814 infections, compared to 297,054 on Monday – a difference of 5,760. The daily report indicates that this is due to problems with the data provided by the regions and “the transition to the new monitoring strategy,” under which new cases are only reported if they have been diagnosed in the past 24 hours.

The incidence rate of Covid-19 in Spain has jumped ninefold since mid-June, rising to 71 confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants

In reality, Spain is detecting a much higher number of new Covid-19 cases than what is reported under the heading “Diagnosed in the last 24 hours” in the daily report. Last week, more than 2,500 infections were being detected a day. This figure includes all new cases, regardless of whether they were diagnosed the day before or several days ago.

The 14-day cumulative incidence of the virus, the indicator used by international agencies to make comparisons between countries, has continued to rise in Spain since the end of the state of alarm on June 21. Indeed, the incidence rate has jumped ninefold since mid-June, rising to 71 confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

After Aragón and Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia reported the highest number of new cases on Tuesday, with 109 infections detected in each region. Given that these are highly populated areas, it is useful to look at the cumulative incidence in relation to the population. In this case, Andalusia has 20 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, Catalonia has 158 and Madrid 66. The region by far with the highest incidence of Covid-19 is Aragón, with 566 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Last week, more than 2,500 infections were being detected a day in Spain

As the number of cases rises, so too has the number of hospitalizations for coronavirus. According to Tuesday’s report, 549 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital in the past seven days, compared to 472 on Friday. Aragón has reported nearly half of all recent hospitalizations in Spain, with 237 admissions. The number of patients in intensive care has also risen, with 41 recorded in the past week, nine of whom were admitted in Aragón. The northeastern region is facing several outbreaks and community transmission – meaning the chain of transmission cannot be traced – in many areas, including its capital Zaragoza.

The number of coronavirus victims has also risen. According to Monday’s report, 34 people died from Covid-19 in the last seven days, bringing the total to 28,498. This figure does not count suspected coronavirus cases who died before being tested for the disease. If these fatalities were taken into account the total death toll in Spain would be closer to 50,000, according to an EL PAÍS estimate based on regional records and data from three different agencies. Fifteen of the recent victims were recorded in Aragón.

Catalonia to launch mass testing campaign

The Catalan health department is set to launch a mass testing campaign in a bid to curb contagion in the comarca of Vallès, where incidence of Covid-19 has doubled in the past week.

Residents in the Campoamor neighborhood in Sabadell, which has recorded several cases of Covid-19.
Residents in the Campoamor neighborhood in Sabadell, which has recorded several cases of Covid-19.CRISTOBAL CASTRO

Tents will be set up to carry out PCR tests on around 9,000 people in the municipalities of Terrassa, Ripollet and Sabadell. The initiative is the first of its kind in Spain. While there have been other testing campaigns, they have been targeted at specific groups, such as seasonal workers or guests of a party linked to an outbreak. In this case, the tests will be indiscriminately available to all residents.

Andalusia to issue fines of up to €600,000 for safety violators

In a bid to curb contagion of Covid-19, the Andalusian regional government has established a penalty system for those who break the coronavirus safety measures. The plan is considering fines of €100 for not wearing a mask, or wearing it improperly, and up to €600,000 for establishments like nightclubs, supermarkets and stores that exceed the set capacity, hold parties with large groups or fail to follow safe distancing rules.

According to the Andalusian government, there are 80 coronavirus outbreaks in the region, with 826 associated cases. A total of 70% of new cases are among people between 20 and 51 years of age, Elías Bendodo, the spokesperson for the regional government, said on Tuesday. “We are being firm so that the sanctioning scheme is strictly followed. [...] Being young does not make you stronger. As a young person, you will see your father, your mother and your grandfather as the at-risk community.”

Police in the region recently opened an investigation into a DJ who was caught on camera on Saturday, spitting alcohol over a crowd at a party in a beach club in Torremolinos, in Málaga province. The party-goers were not wearing face masks or respecting social distancing rules.

Antibody rate in Madrid senior residence

A total of 61% of residents in senior homes in Madrid and 30% of workers at these centers have developed IgC antibodies to the coronavirus. That’s according to the results of 18,500 blood samples taken by the regional health department in different social service centers in the region.

A worker helps a resident at the Santa María de Montecarmelo senior home in Madrid.
A worker helps a resident at the Santa María de Montecarmelo senior home in Madrid.Andrea Comas (EL PAÍS)

These are the first results of a seroprevalence study being carried out in Madrid, where nearly 6,000 official coronavirus fatalities have been recorded in the region’s 474 senior residences. A total of 70,000 tests are set to be carried out at 435 centers – 50,000 on residents and 20,000 on staff.

Joan Ramon Villalbí, a specialist in preventive medicine and public health, says that the fact that 61% of residents have antibodies is “an indication of how serious the penetration of the virus was in residences in the Madrid region in the first wave.” Amid fears of a second wave of Covid-19, Villalbí argues the impact will be much lower if it re-enters senior centers. “In residences where more people have antibodies, we must assume that the virus will circulate less because it is likely that people with immunity will not be infected,” he explains.

Business closed for allowing infected staff to work

The Catalan regional government has shut down a business in Lleida province after a work inspection found that 19 people with Covid-19 were continuing to work there even though it was known they had tested positive for the disease.

“Given the seriousness of the situation, the public health department has issued a resolution to suspend its activity,” the regional health department said in a press release.

The regional government has stepped up its efforts to monitor coronavirus safety measures in the workplace, which has been linked to several serious outbreaks, specifically among fruit pickers at horticultural companies in Lleida province.

With reporting by Javier Martín-Arroyo, Jessica Mouzo and Ixone Arana.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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