A total of 27,404 new coronavirus cases have been detected in Spain since Friday. That’s according to Monday’s report from the Spanish Health Ministry, which does not publish Covid-19 figures over the weekend.
The latest report added 101 coronavirus-related deaths to the official count, which only includes victims who have been diagnosed with the disease. Madrid continues to be the worst-affected region, accounting for one third of all new infections, with 10,864 cases since Friday. The region also reported 25 deaths, or one fourth of the total over the weekend.
Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, on Tuesday expressed concern about the coronavirus situation in Spain, and said he was at a loss to understand why so many new cases are emerging. “There aren’t many other countries in the European Union to have adopted such tough measures to contain the first wave,” he said.
In the Balearic Islands, the regional government will introduce new restrictions on mobility for residents of Palma who live near the Arquitecte Bennàzar health center, on the island of Mallorca. Freedom of movement will also be reduced in parts of the city of Ibiza and in the town of Sant Antoni, on the island of Ibiza, due to a spike in cases. Another four neighborhoods in Palma that are home to around 23,000 people have been dealing with restrictions since last week.
Spain is testing a similar proportion of the population as other European countries, but its positivity rate is much higher
Andalusia recorded the second-highest number of new cases with 2,512 infections, followed by Castilla y León (2,097), Basque Country (1,451), Aragón (1,282), Murcia (1,136) and Catalonia (1,073). Madrid has the highest 14-day cumulative incidence of the virus, with 618 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, more than double the national average of 247. Asturias is the only Spanish region with an incidence rate below 100, with 70 cases per 100,000 people. In recent days, Spain has been detecting more new coronavirus infections than in April and May. But the situation is very different: during the first wave of the pandemic, only serious cases were being recorded, while today, many people who test positive have minor symptoms or are asymptomatic.
The total official number of coronavirus fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,848, with 207 deaths recorded in the last seven days, according to the latest report. In the past week, 1,976 coronavirus patients have been hospitalized, 138 of whom were admitted into intensive care. The number of hospitalizations has been on an upward trend for several weeks. The Health Ministry did not provide data on hospital occupancy on Monday, but according to the report from Friday, the proportion of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients is 7.5% of the total, although this figure varies greatly from region to region. In Madrid, it is as high as 18%, in other words nearly one in every five hospital beds in the region is occupied by a coronavirus patient.
Speaking at the government press conference on Monday, the health secretary of state, Silvia Calzón, said that around 90,000 PCR tests were carried out every day last week. Calzón was filling in for Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, who has taken some time off.
According to Monday’s report, 631,238 tests were performed between September 4 and 10. But there is a large difference between the positivity rate in each region. In Asturias, for example, only 2.5% of tests came back positive, compared to 21% in Madrid. Castilla-La Mancha also has a very high positivity rate of 17.7%. The higher this figure, the worse the epidemiological situation, as it indicates that transmission is uncontrolled. The World Health Organization estimates that positivity rates should be below 5%. Spain is testing a similar proportion of the population as other European countries (it is carrying out the average number of tests per 100,000 inhabitants), but its positivity rate is much higher.
The cumulative incidence of Covid-19 in Madrid is at 618 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, more than double the national average of 247
Calzón, who appeared at the press conference for the first time since being appointed to the position in August, said that the Health Ministry and regional authorities were looking at the possibility of using other diagnostic tools in addition to PCR tests, such as the new antigen tests that have begun to hit the market. According to Calzón, these are still “in the process of technical assessment.”
In response to the rise in cases, several regions have introduced new restrictions or extended measures that are already in place. On Monday, the regional government of Murcia decided to confine part of the city of Lorca, which has detected 470 coronavirus cases in the last week. The measure, which is described as a flexible version of Phase 1 of the national deescalation plan, means that residents will only be able to leave for essential reasons, such as work and visits to the doctor, and capacity at shops will be reduced to 50%. The new restrictions will affect Lorca’s city center, which is home to 60,000 people.
The Catalan health department also approved on Monday new measures in the cities of Girona and Salt. Under the new rules, which are expected to come into effect on Wednesday, capacity at bars and restaurants in the two areas will be cut to 50% for a period of 15 days.
English version by Melissa Kitson.