CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus cases in Spain officially top three million

The Spanish Health Ministry added 766 Covid fatalities to the official toll on Tuesday, the highest single-day figure since the first wave of the pandemic

Funeral worker moving a coffin to the basement of the Sancho de Ávila funeral home in Barcelona.
Funeral worker moving a coffin to the basement of the Sancho de Ávila funeral home in Barcelona.Albert Garcia

The number of coronavirus cases diagnosed in Spain since the beginning of the pandemic officially exceeded three million on Tuesday. According to the latest Health Ministry report, released on Tuesday evening, the total now stands at 3,005,487.

The real figure, however, is likely to be much higher given that not all infections are being detected, in particular asymptomatic cases or people with minor symptoms who do not go to the doctor for testing. It is not possible to know the true total, but studies suggest that close to nine million Spaniards have had the coronavirus. A seroprevalence survey at the end of November, for instance, found that 9.9% of the population, or 4.5 million people, had developed antibodies to the virus. This was triple the official number registered at the time of 1.5 million. If this proportion remains the same, and the number of coronavirus cases is three times higher than the official figure, the total right now is closer to nine million. Estimates from the modeling organization Nomorepandemics, based on the number of PCR tests carried out, also point to a similar figure.

In the last seven days, 3,256 Covid victims have been recorded, a rise of 250 upon last week’s figure

The third wave of the pandemic, which saw Spain report the highest number of new cases since April, has led to a sharp rise in total infections. One million cases have been detected just since January 6, a little over a month ago. It took two-and-a-half months for Spain to record the previous million infections (the total topped one million on October 20). If the number of new infections continues to fall, it should take longer for the total to exceed four million. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported 16,402 new cases, nearly half the figure from a week ago, when 31,546 infections were registered. This fall is also being reflected in the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants which stood at 630 on Tuesday, down from 846.84 a week ago.

The incidence rate, which provides a more accurate picture of the short- and medium-term evolution of the pandemic than the number of daily infections, has fallen from nearly 1,000, which it reached on January 27. In six territories, the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants has fallen below 500. But in every territory except the Canary Islands, the incidence rate is above the 250-threshold considered to indicate a situation of extreme risk.

The Health Ministry added 766 Covid fatalities to the official toll on Tuesday, the highest single-day figure since the first wave, when nearly 1,000 overnight deaths were reported. The seven-day cumulative number of victims has also risen since last Tuesday. In the last seven days, 3,256 Covid victims have been recorded, a rise of 250 upon last week’s figure. The death toll since the beginning of the pandemic now exceeds 63,000. But like the total number of infections, the real death toll is likely to be much higher, given that thousands of people died without being diagnosed during the first wave, meaning they were not included in the official count. According to the latest estimates from the National Statistics Institute (INE) and Carlos III Health Institute, more than 80,000 people have died from Covid in Spain.

Pressure on hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs) continues to ease but remains at very high levels. Covid patients occupy 20.41% of all hospital beds and 42.28% of all ICU beds. This is down from February 1, when the occupancy rates were 24.96% and 45.30%, respectively.

English version by Melissa Kitson.


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