The Spanish Health Ministry on Wednesday added 11,289 new coronavirus cases to the official count. Of this figure, 4,143 were diagnosed in the last 24 hours, although this number could be much higher given that many regions do not report new diagnoses immediately, meaning they are added to the total at a later date. The total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic now stands at 693,556.
The Health Ministry also reported 130 new coronavirus fatalities, bringing the official death toll to 31,034. This figure, however, does not include Covid-19 victims who died before being tested for the disease.
In the first wave, one in every 10 cases were detected; now six or seven cases in every 10 are detectedHealth Minister Salvador Illa
With the virus continuing to spread, Health Minister Salvador Illa called on citizens to act responsibly. “Most of the outbreaks are happening in social and private gatherings. We have to appeal to public awareness. Outbreaks in the workplace are not the most common,” said Illa on Wednesday before the health committee of Spain’s lower house, the Congress of Deputies.
The 14-day cumulative incidence of Covid-19 in Spain has now risen to 286.86 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This is double what it was a month ago: 142.27 on August 20. Illa, however, stressed that the first and second wave of the virus are very different. “In the first [wave], only one in every 10 cases was being detected; now six or seven cases in every 10 are detected,” he said.
Tough times for Madrid
Health Minister Salvador Illa on Thursday warned that “there are tough weeks up ahead for Madrid,” and said that “it is necessary to act resolutely to take control of the pandemic in this region.”
Regional premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso, of the Popular Party (PP), is expected to announce new restrictions on Friday that will affect areas with a high coronavirus incidence. For now, however, a region-wide confinement is being ruled out, according to the Madrid justice chief, Enrique López, in statements to the radio station Onda Madrid.
The Madrid region continues to have the highest number of new cases, with nearly 1,300 diagnoses, according to the official report released last night. “Madrid is our main concern at the moment,” admitted Illa. Although the 14-day cumulative incidence of the virus in the region fell on Wednesday – down from 772 cases per 100,00 inhabitants on Tuesday to 754 – it continues to be much higher than the national average.
In response to the rising number of cases, the Madrid government said that it may introduce new restrictions, such as cutting capacity at bars and restaurants to 50%, in the entire region. These measures have already been applied to 37 basic health areas that have been confined since Monday due to their high Covid-19 incidence rate. The Madrid regional government also requested “urgent” logistical support from the Spanish armed forces to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, as well as 300 doctors from other regions to shore up the healthcare sector.
Defense Minister Margarita Robles on Thursday said that as many as 7,500 troops are available to help fight the coronavirus in the Madrid region. But Robles noted that no official request has been received yet beyond a call for 150 contact tracers, of whom 130 are already operational. This figure could be raised to 500 if needed.
The Health Ministry reported 130 new coronavirus fatalities, bringing the official death toll to 31,034
A total of 10,755 coronavirus patients are currently admitted into hospitals across Spain. Of this figure, 1,436 are in intensive care units (ICUs). The situation is still a long way off from where it was during the peak in March, when hospitals were near breaking point. Now, 9.21% of hospital beds in Spain are occupied by coronavirus patients. But this figure varies greatly depending on the region. In Madrid, for example, coronavirus patients occupy one fourth of ward hospital beds and more than a third of the ICU. In smaller areas with fewer resources, like La Rioja or the Spanish exclave city of Ceuta in North Africa, the ICU occupancy rate is more than 40%. In Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Castilla y León, Covid-19 patients occupy less than 25% of ICU beds.
But with hospitalizations continuing to outnumber discharges, it is unlikely the pressure on hospitals will ease any time soon. According to Wednesday’s report, 1,326 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in the past 24 hours, while 1,266 were released after recovering from the disease.
With additional reporting by Miguel González.
English version by Melissa Kitson.