CORONAVIRUS

Spain reports 31,785 new coronavirus cases from Friday to Monday, with 179 victims

Health Minister Salvador Illa confirms there is “community transmission” in Madrid, which continues to be the worst-hit Spanish region

A medical center in Orcasitas, one of the neighborhoods in Madrid that has been confined.
A medical center in Orcasitas, one of the neighborhoods in Madrid that has been confined.VICTOR SAINZ

The coronavirus pandemic continues to spread in Spain, in particular in one region: Madrid. The latest report from the Health Ministry about the crisis, which was released on Monday evening, shows 13,449 new cases detected in Madrid since Friday (no data is released over the weekend). “This is the biggest growth of the second wave,” explained Health Minister Salvador Illa, who appeared before reporters last night accompanied by Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES).

The same figure for Madrid released last Monday was 11,991 new cases, and the week before that 10,864. Four weeks ago the figure was 9,440. “There is community transmission in Madrid, and the pandemic is not under control,” said Illa, referring to a situation whereby new infections cannot be tracked and traced. “We need to act.”

The cumulative incidence of Covid-19 in Madrid is 775 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – more than double the Spanish average of 290

The new cases registered in the Madrid region represent 42% of the total 31,785 registered in the ministry report since Friday. This percentage has grown compared to last week, when it came in at 38%. The total number of cases on a national level, meanwhile, continues to grow. Compared with other Mondays, when the cases registered over the weekend are accumulated, September 28 saw the biggest growth so far of the second wave: four weeks ago 26,000 new cases were notified, 5,000 fewer than this Monday.

Spain also registered the highest number of new coronavirus-related deaths recorded between Friday and Monday in this second wave, according to the ministry report, with 179 fatalities. The official Covid-19 death toll in Spain now stands at 31,411, although this number does not include the tens of thousands of victims who were not subject to a PCR test during the first wave.

The cumulative incidence of cases over two weeks continues to be very high in the Madrid region, with 775 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, more than double the Spanish average of 290. These figures far outstrip those in the majority of European countries: in the United Kingdom the figure is 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and in Italy, it is 37. Only France, which has 235 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, is close to the rate of growth in Spain, although the French government has approved restrictions in the country’s main cities. “In Europe, the trend is similar to that of Spain,” Fernando Simón explained on Monday evening. “They are three weeks behind us, but nearly all of them are seeing an increase in the cases they are reporting. It is not desirable,” he concluded.

The Madrid region has become a black spot for the national coronavirus statistics and the main concern for the Health Ministry. As well as the accumulated incidence, the region is also the worst in all other parameters. Despite having ramped up its PCR testing, with more than 2,300 tests per 100,000 inhabitants being carried out, 20% of those tested are coming back positive. According to experts, this means that the level of community transmission is very high and that there are still many more positive cases to be detected. The World Health Organization, for example, has established a 5% limit for transmission to be considered under control.

There is community transmission in Madrid, and the pandemic is not under control
Health Minister Salvador Illa

Illa repeated his insistence last night that the Madrid regional government should change course and restrict mobility in areas where the cumulative infection rate over two weeks is above 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This would affect three-quarters of the region. For now, the Madrid administration is refusing to take that step.

The level of pressure on Spanish hospitals is also gradually rising, although it varies greatly from region to region. According to the data from the Health Ministry, the occupation of hospital beds by Covid-19 patients is around 9.7%, with a total of 11,147 people admitted. The intensive care unit (ICU) occupation rate is higher, at 18%, with 1,529 people in a serious condition. Madrid is once again the region with the worst figures, with a quarter of its hospital beds occupied by Covid-19, a figure that rises to 40% in terms of ICU spaces.

Hospital admissions over the previous 24 hours came in at 955, compared to 422 Covid-19 patients discharged. “The situation in Spain is very variable, and as such, activity also has to be very variable. We have a total of 24 provinces where stabilization is being observed, and above all, a clear fall in the incidence in recent weeks,” Simón explained on Monday evening.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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