CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus incidence rate falls in 12 Spanish regions, but deaths continue to rise

The Health Ministry added 356 fatalities to the official toll on Thursday, bringing the average number of daily reported victims this week to close to 300

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), at a press conference on Thursday.
Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), at a press conference on Thursday.Zipi / EFE

Spain’s national coronavirus incidence rate remains high, but has been on a downward trend for the past week, according to the latest report by the Spanish Health Ministry. The daily report, released Thursday, put the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Spain at 504, down from the record of 528 registered on November 4. But it will be some time before this fall is reflected in the number of coronavirus fatalities. The Health Ministry added 356 deaths to the official toll on Thursday, up from 329 on Wednesday. This brings the average number of daily reported victims this week to close to 300.

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), warned that the situation in Spain is “still very complicated,” with the country far from reaching its goal of 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. “But the evolution indicates a stabilization and a fall in some regions,” he said.

We can’t allow these figures to be sustained, as they will still have an impact on the health system
Fernando Simón, director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts

The Health Ministry reported 19,511 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, up from 19,096 on Wednesday. Although the situation varies greatly between Spain’s 17 regions, the huge disparities seen a few weeks ago, where cases were spiking in some regions and falling in others, are no longer present. The Valencia region, Asturias and Cantabria are the only regions where the incidence rate is on a clear upward trend, with the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants at 297, 551 and 511, respectively. In 12 Spanish regions, the incidence rate is falling, and in the remaining two – the Basque Country and Castilla y León – it is rising at a much slower rate.

“The trend is positive, but the number continues to be very high,” said Simón. “We can’t allow these figures to be sustained, as they will still have an impact on the health system, both in the occupation of regular hospital beds as well as intensive care beds, at least for a few days more, with variation between the regions.”

According to Thursday’s report, coronavirus patients occupy 16.4% of all regular hospital beds and 31.9% of those in intensive care units (ICUs).

Simón maintained that Spain is controlling the spread of the virus without the need for stricter measures such as a home lockdown, which he does not believe to be currently necessary. The current state of alarm, declared by the Spanish government at the end of October, gives regional authorities the power to restrict movement but stops short of allowing a full lockdown. On Wednesday, the regional government of Castilla y León asked the central administration to authorize home confinement in Burgos, where the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants has risen to 1,700. The Spanish Health Ministry rejected this request, which prompted regional authorities to call on residents in Burgos to self-isolate.

According to Simón, a home lockdown is not needed, if all the other measures available under the state of alarm, such as the nighttime curfew and perimetral lockdown of regions and municipalities, are applied. “The measures of the current state of alarm do not mention a 24-hour home lockdown, but if all those that are available are applied to the maximum extent, the situation would be very similar,” he said, adding that such a drastic move will only be taken “if necessary.”

English version by Melissa Kitson.


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