Changeable coronavirus data from Madrid sees marked fall in new infections, victims

The number of fatalities reported by the central Health Ministry on Wednesday was 76, down from a record high during this second wave of 261 the day before

People wait in line for a rapid coronavirus antigen test in the Madrid neighbourhood of Vallecas.
People wait in line for a rapid coronavirus antigen test in the Madrid neighbourhood of Vallecas.Manu Fernandez (AP)

The Spanish Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 10,491 new coronavirus infections and 76 Covid-19-related fatalities. The figures represent a marked fall compared to the previous day’s, in particular in terms of victims. On Tuesday, the government’s data showed 261 coronavirus deaths, the highest daily figure so far in this second wave of the health crisis. Yesterday, however, there were roughly 200 fewer.

This abrupt change in the numbers is due to the data from the Madrid region. While on Tuesday it reported 126 deaths, on Wednesday the figure was just six. Madrid went from the highest number of victims in the second wave one day, to the lowest figure since September 11 the next. Over the past week, the number of deaths in Madrid came in at between 20% and 30% of the national total. On Tuesday they accounted for 48%, but on Wednesday just 7%.

The changeable data from Madrid is also there to see in the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This data point has fallen sharply to 591, having been at 735 one week ago, 586 on Monday and 710 on Tuesday. This indicator is of key importance, because, among other reasons, it is one of those being used by the Health Ministry and the country’s regional governments as a trigger to introduce further restrictions, such as those currently in place in 10 Madrid cities – including the Spanish capital.

The data from Madrid has been a point of conflict in recent days between the central government and the regional administration. Health Minister Salvador Illa and Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), expressed doubts about the fall in infections in the region that was shown by Monday’s report. The Madrid government responded by attacking the ministry for the comments and defending the accuracy of its reporting. On Wednesday, while speaking in the Senate, Illa stated that his intention was not to doubt the data from Madrid. An analysis of the new cases notified – i.e. those that Madrid reports to the Health Ministry every day, independently of when they were diagnosed – shows a flattening and slight fall of the curve, reflecting a genuine improvement of the situation in the region. The rates of hospital bed occupation by coronavirus patients are also falling.

The new cases registered on a national level continue to move within a range similar to that seen in recent weeks, between 9,000 and 12,000 a day. The trend is worsening in Andalusia, which has just implemented a perimetral confinement of the Linares municipality in Jaén. The Andalusia region has reported 2,046 new cases, 400 more than on Tuesday and nearly a thousand more than a week ago. However, the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants continues to be well below the national average: in Andalusia, that figure is 166, and in Spain, it is 257.

Navarre worst hit

According to Wednesday’s report, Navarre has now overtaken Madrid as the region with the highest 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants, at 648. The other regions with the worst indicator are La Rioja (394), Castilla y León (382) and Castilla-La Mancha (362). On the other side of the scale are the Canary Islands (97), Valencia (100) and Galicia (104). The favorable situation in the latter region has not stopped the government there from taking localized action in areas where infections are on the rise: a perimetral confinement has just been implemented in Ourense, which is the third-biggest city in Galicia.

In Spain as a whole, 826 more people have been hospitalized with coronavirus, according to Thursday’s report, while 88 have been admitted into intensive care units (ICUs). Madrid hospitals currently have the highest number of ICU patients with coronavirus, occupying 40.3% of available ICU beds. This indicator is slowly falling in the region, having come in at 42% a week ago.

In total, there have been 835,901 confirmed coronavirus infections in Spain since the health crisis began, and 32,562 official victims. But this does not include the thousands of undiagnosed fatalities from the first wave. According to data from Spain’s civil registries, there have been 53,000 excess deaths in the country between March and September.

English version by Simon Hunter.


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