Spain ends last week with record-high rise in coronavirus cases: 12,183 in 24 hours

The country registered its worst incidence of the virus on Friday, with 238 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, but the situation is still far from what it was in spring

Military members help with coronavirus contact tracking in Spain.
Military members help with coronavirus contact tracking in Spain.Rodrigo JimÈnez / EFE

Spain ended last week with the worst figures so far from the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic, with 12,183 cases reported in 24 hours. That figure exceeded the previous record, from the day before, by 1,419 infections. The number of Covid-19-related deaths over the last seven days was 241, according to Friday’s Health Ministry report.

This sharp rise in new infections over two consecutive days threatens to end the trend of slower increases that had been seen over previous days. But any interpretation of a specific daily report issued by the Spanish Health Ministry is subject to many variables, making it impossible to tell if we are faced with a trend or simply peaks and troughs.

Madrid continues to have the highest cumulative incidence of Covid-19 in Spain, with 550.26 cases per 100,000 inhabitants

Whatever the case, analysis of the number of cases over the previous week or two weeks is cause for concern. According to the latest figures from the ministry – no data is supplied over the weekend – Spain has registered its highest cumulative incidence since the start of the pandemic: 238.94 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last two weeks. This is due to the fact that in March and April, when the epidemic took hold in the country, just a small proportion of cases were being detected by testing. Currently, at least six times the amount of tests are being carried out compared to the figure in the spring, meaning that the real magnitude of the spread of the disease was, at least, six times greater at the time.

This is also clear to see when the number of hospitalizations is analyzed. During the first wave of the coronavirus, the Health Ministry did not supply figures detailing the occupation of hospital beds. But the system was overwhelmed, or was close to being overwhelmed, in many of the country’s regions. Now, although the pressure on hospitals is rising, the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients is 7.5% of the total, although this figure varies greatly from region to region.

As is the case with many data points, Madrid has the worst situation, with nearly a third of the 53,158 new cases detected last week and 18% of hospital beds taken up by coronavirus patients. Some hospitals in the capital have had to delay non-urgent surgeries in order to avoid compromising the capacity of intensive care units (ICUs). Across the country, there are currently 1,124 coronavirus patients in ICUs.

Although the pressure on hospitals is rising, the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients is 7.5% of the total

Friday’s report from the ministry also saw Madrid set a new record for new cases detected in the previous day: 4,195. The cumulative incidence in the region is currently 550.26 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, very close to the figure registered by Aragón in mid-August, when the health crisis there peaked. The good news is that the latter region managed to get the situation under control, but it took several weeks to do so after implementing social restrictions equivalent to those that Madrid introduced last Monday.

After Madrid, the regions with the highest cumulative incidence are the Basque Country (370), La Rioja (367) and the North African exclave city of Melilla (316). At the other end of the scale is Asturias, with just 59.8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

In Europe, only France is registering figures close to those of Spain, but although the cumulative incidence is growing fast, it is still much lower than that of its southern neighbor, with 131.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In general the virus is growing across the continent, but other countries are registering much lower figures. Portugal, for example, has recorded 49.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the United Kingdom 39.7, Italy 29.4 and Germany 19.1.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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