CORONAVIRUS

Spain reports 8,581 new coronavirus cases, but virus spread slows

Cumulative incidence in the regions of Madrid, the Balearics, Catalonia and Aragón has fallen slightly, while Covid-19 patients occupy 6% of hospital beds nationwide

PCR tests are carried out in Castilla y León.
PCR tests are carried out in Castilla y León.J. Casares / EFE

The Spanish Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 8,581 new cases of the coronavirus in Spain, 3,663 of which were detected in the previous 24 hours. Although the epidemic continues to spread quickly through the country, the weekly incidence figures – 47,423 diagnoses – and those for the last 14 days – 99,621 – have fallen slightly thanks to an improvement of the situation in Madrid, the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and Aragón.

These falls, however, are far from being a downward trend. Only Aragón has presented a consistent descent in infections, while in Catalonia they have stabilized. But the data from the Balearics and Madrid could be an oasis in the midst of what appears to be an unstoppable rise, especially in the case of the latter region, which accounts for nearly a third of the cases in all of Spain.

Health authorities and experts alike are particularly concerned as to what is happening in the capital, given that, as a transportation hub, it has the capacity to spread the virus to the rest of the country.

Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia account for nearly half of all of Covid-19 patients in the country

Also particularly affected are the neighboring regions Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha, which held a meeting on Wednesday evening with the Health Ministry and representatives from Madrid in order to agree on joint action in the face of the ongoing rise in cases.

According to sources present at the meeting, the epidemiological situation in these regions was examined and an agreement was reached to hold periodic meetings to coordinate actions to combat the virus. The meeting was aimed at sharing and preventing future scenarios and coordinating actions between the three regions if necessary.

Madrid continues to present the highest incidence of cases over 14 days, with 466 per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by the Basque Country (363) and La Rioja (361). The rest of Spain’s regions are all below 300 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, although this rate is far higher than in neighboring countries. Only Asturias, with 46, is below 100.

Health authorities and experts alike are particularly concerned as to what is happening in the capital

The pressure on hospitals is still gradually rising, although the rhythm has also slowed somewhat according to yesterday’s figures with respect to previous days. Currently there are 6,924 patients being treated for Covid-19, which is 6% of the total beds in Spain, a percentage that is slowly rising. Of these, 874 patients are in intensive care units (ICUs).

Madrid is also the region with the highest percentage of coronavirus patients in its hospitals, with 15%. This figure has been rising since August 20, when the Health Ministry began to offer the data point for the first time. At that time it was at 9.5%, but in recent days the percentage has held steady. Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia account for nearly half of all of Covid-19 patients in the country, but it should be noted that they are also the regions with the highest population levels in the country.

The Health Ministry report includes 42 new Covid-19-related deaths, bringing the official total to 29,194. This figure is, however, most likely well below the real death toll, given that thousands of people in Spain have died after contracting the coronavirus but were not given a PCR test to confirm the infection. Calculations by EL PAÍS published at the end of June put the real total at nearly 45,000 victims.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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