Health Ministry reports 31,000 new coronavirus cases detected this weekend, a third of them in Madrid

Nearly 170 victims have been added to the overall death toll, with more than 11,000 Covid-19 patients currently in hospital

Crowds of people on Preciados street in Madrid on September 5.
Crowds of people on Preciados street in Madrid on September 5.Olmo Calvo (EL PAÍS)
Jessica Mouzo

Coronavirus infections in Spain continue to rise, with 31,428 new cases reported on Monday, bringing the overall total to nearly 671,500 since the pandemic took hold back in March. The official report released last night by the Health Ministry, which covers Friday through Sunday, shows that the epidemiological curve is accelerating, given that the figure of new infections registered last Monday was 27,404.

More than a third of the infections reported over the weekend were in the Madrid region, which on Monday put in place stricter measures in nearly 40 healthcare areas in a bid to slow transmission rates. The official coronavirus death toll, according to yesterday’s report, now stands at 30,663, with 168 new Covid-19 fatalities added to the statistics since Friday.

Madrid has the highest Covid-19 incidence rate in Spain, with 746 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – 2.6 times the national average

“We are seeing a clear rise in Spain,” said last night Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), about the latest figures. The cumulative incidence in Spain continues to rise, with 280 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last weeks. That figure varies greatly from region to region, however. Asturias continues to register the lower figure, with 93, while in the Canary Islands and the Basque Country the number is falling, with 130 and 311, respectively. “Catalonia is not growing, but it is stabilizing to an endemic level that will not fall,” the CCAES director explained.

Madrid continues to top the list, with 746 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – that’s 2.6 times the Spanish average. The region is also dealing with the highest pressure on its healthcare system, with a quarter of its beds occupied by Covid-19 patients. There are currently 3,849 coronavirus patients admitted to hospital, 412 of them in intensive care.

“The measures can be very effective,” said Simón about the new restrictions put in place in neighborhoods such as Vallecas from Monday, which limit meetings to six people and have seen parks and gardens closed. “There will have to be questions as to whether they should be extended to other areas of the region.”

The CCAES chief also praised the “mutual understanding” between the regional administration and the central government, after Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and regional premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso of the conservative Popular Party (PP) met on Monday with the aim of working together to tackle the worsening epidemiological situation in Madrid. Since the end of the state of alarm in June, the handling of the coronavirus situation has fallen to Spain’s regional governments.

All measures are on the table but the aim try to limit the impact of the measures to what is strictly necessary
Fernando Simón, director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts

On Monday evening, Simón did not rule out a strict confinement of Madrid, although he stated that the current strategy is more in line with surgical interventions. “We will have to see how [the situation] evolves and what the impact is of these measures,” he said. “All measures are on the table but the aim is to be more delicate with our actions and try to limit the impact of the measures to what is strictly necessary. We will have to evaluate it progressively.”

Last night’s figures also showed that there are currently 11,031 coronavirus patients in Spanish hospitals, 1,417 of whom are in intensive care. The occupation of hospital beds due to Covid-19 cases is currently at 9.5% across the country – up one point from Friday.

Meanwhile, the death rate – the total number of victims as a proportion of confirmed cases – is currently 0.9%. In the last seven days, Spain’s regions have reported 311 victims, 87 of them in Madrid and 51 in Andalusia.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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