CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus incidence rate continues to fall across Spain

Every region, except the Canary Islands, has seen a drop in the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants

Health workers at the ICU of Barcelona’s Vall d'Hebron hospital.
Health workers at the ICU of Barcelona’s Vall d'Hebron hospital.Alberto Estévez / EFE

The incidence rate of the coronavirus has fallen in all of Spain’s 17 regions, with the exception of the Canary Islands, which has by far the best epidemiological situation in the country. According to the latest Health Ministry report, released on Wednesday evening, the national 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 340.83. A lower figure has not been recorded since October 21, more than a month ago.

Although the spread of the virus is slowing across almost all of Spain, it is doing so at different speeds. The biggest falls have been recorded by the regions with the highest incidence rates, such as Castilla y León, where the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants dropped from 649.87 on Tuesday to 596.95 on Wednesday. Similar falls were also recorded in the Basque Country (577.55 to 547.02) and La Rioja (534.09 to 511.05). In other regions where the incidence rate was on the rise, the figure has also dropped, such as Valencia (283.43 to 281.55). The 14-day cumulative number of cases is one of the most accurate indicators to measure the evolution of the pandemic because it provides a picture of the situation over a two-week period, which fluctuates less than the daily number of new infections.

The Health Ministry recorded 10,222 new cases on Wednesday, nearly half the number detected two weeks ago

The latest Health Ministry report recorded 10,222 new cases, nearly half the number detected two weeks ago (19,096). This brings total confirmed infections since the beginning of the pandemic to 1,605,066. Catalonia reported the highest number of new cases with respect to Tuesday, with 1,613 recorded, followed by the Valencia region (1,427) and Madrid (1,315). Andalusia, in contrast, recorded a significant fall, reporting 1,232 new cases on Wednesday, compared to 3,915 on Tuesday.

Other data points also indicate that the epidemiological situation is improving. According to Wednesday’s report, coronavirus patients occupy 12.84% of all hospital beds, down nearly three percentage points in a week. The hospital occupancy rate is now below what it was when the Spanish government declared a new state of alarm on October 25. At that point, the figure was around 13%. The pressure on intensive care units (ICUs) has also eased significantly, with Covid-19 patients currently occupying 28.9% of all ICUs beds. Although this indicator is on a downward trend – it reached 32.8% last Monday – it continues to be at worryingly high levels. According to the Health Ministry’s coronavirus alert system, an ICU occupancy rate of more than 25% indicates a situation of “extreme risk.”

The Health Ministry report added 369 Covid-19-related fatalities to the official toll, a significant fall on Tuesday’s figure of 537, which set a new record of deaths in the second wave. The high number of victims is a result of the spike in daily cases recorded two to three weeks ago. Wednesday’s report also indicated that the Basque Country had not updated all of its data due to “technical problems” and had only registered one coronavirus fatality. This means the number of deaths may be higher than 369, given that the northern region reported 103 Covid-19 victims on Tuesday. The highest number of Covid-19-related fatalities was recorded by Catalonia (101), followed by Andalusia (65).

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), warned on Monday that the number of deaths will be the last indicator to reflect the “downward trend” of the pandemic. The official death toll since the beginning of the pandemic now stands at 44,037, although the real number is likely to be much higher given that during the first wave in Spain, thousands of people died before their Covid-19 diagnoses could be confirmed by a PCR test.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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