CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus hospital admissions in Spain fall for the first time this year

The Health Ministry reported 40,285 new infections on Wednesday and added 492 deaths to the official toll, which now stands at 57,291

Health workers treating a Covid-19 patient in Valencia.
Health workers treating a Covid-19 patient in Valencia.Mònica Torres

The percentage of hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients in Spain fell on Wednesday for the first time since December 31, 2020. According to the latest Health Ministry report, released on Wednesday evening, Covid-19 patients now occupy 24.03%, a marginal drop on Tuesday’s figure of 24.10%. In total, 30,789 people are in hospital with Covid-19 in Spain, 26 less than on Tuesday.

This trend, if confirmed, would indicate that Spain has overcome the peak of the third wave of the pandemic, after the spike in new coronavirus infections hit a record high last Thursday, when 44,357 cases were recorded.

According to corrected data from the Carlos III Health Institute, the record was actually broken a few days earlier on January 15, given that the daily figures do not indicate the date of contagion. This would mean that it has been two weeks since Spain reached the peak of the third wave, which is precisely the time that it takes for a drop in new cases to be reflected in the number of hospitalizations. This delay is due to the fact that it can take several days for a patient’s condition to worsen after they first start showing symptoms.

In the past seven days, 2,654 victims have died from Covid-19, the highest number since April last year

According to the Health Ministry’s report, 40,285 new coronavirus cases were recorded on Wednesday, down from 44,357 on January 21, but up from Tuesday’s figure of 36,435. What’s more, in these recent weeks, the seven-day cumulative number of infections has been the highest seen since the first wave of the pandemic. A total of 257,784 new coronavirus cases were reported in the last week, down from 259,075 on Tuesday.

As a result of the high number of new infections, Spain’s national incidence rate also continues to rise, albeit at a slower rate. According to Wednesday’s report, the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 899.93. But the rise over the past seven days is 22.3%, where one week ago it was 49.5%. The incidence rate also fell from Tuesday in seven Spanish territories: the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Catalonia, Extremadura, Murcia and the North African exclave city of Ceuta.

However, only in the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Navarre and the Basque Country is the 14-day cumulative number per 100,000 inhabitants below 500. The European Union recommends against travel to areas with an incidence rate above the 500-threshold or for these territories to introduce their own travel restrictions.

Intensive care units (ICUs) in Spain also continue to be under great pressure, with Covid-19 patients occupying 41.9% of all ICU beds. A total of 3,597 Covid-19 patients are currently in intensive care.

The Health Ministry added 492 Covid-19 deaths to the official toll on Wednesday, the second-highest figure of the third wave, which began on December 10, if it is measured from the lowest incidence rate recorded. In the past seven days, 2,654 victims have died from Covid-19, the highest number since April last year. During the first wave, however, thousands of people died without being diagnosed, meaning they were not included in the official count. The official death toll since the beginning of the pandemic now stands at 57,291.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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