CORONAVIRUS

Spain records highest weekly number of Covid deaths since first wave: 3,415

The Health Ministry hopes new coronavirus cases will continue to fall for at least another three or four days and is warning against relaxation of measures too soon

Funeral workers prepare to transfer a body to a coffin in Barcelona.
Funeral workers prepare to transfer a body to a coffin in Barcelona.Albert Garcia

The last seven days have been the worst in terms of coronavirus deaths since the first wave of the pandemic in Spain in the spring of 2020. According to the latest report from the Spanish Health Ministry, which was released on Thursday, a total of 3,415 people have died after a positive Covid-19 test over the last week. And this figure is on the rise, up 11.35% from a week before.

The worsening data in terms of coronavirus victims is the consequence of the spike in new infections that was seen three or four weeks ago, when the number of new cases hit a high after the increased social activity that took place over the Christmas season. According to the official figures, 64,217 people have died in Spain after testing positive for the coronavirus. The real death toll is likely much higher given the limited testing capacity during the early stages of the health crisis.

The seven-day cumulative figure of new cases is 128,029, down from 208,424 a week ago

This data point was the worst contained in Thursday’s ministry report. The good news, however, is that new cases have fallen to 17,853, with a seven-day cumulative figure of 128,029. A week ago this last figure was 208,424. In total, 3,041,454 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Spain since the health crisis began.

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), said on Thursday that this downward trend is likely to continue for at least four or five days. But, he warned, this improvement does not mean “that this is over,” and he admitted that the more positive epidemiological data could prompt some regions to relax “some specific measures” currently in place to keep the spread of the virus at bay.

With a 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants of 540.3, according to yesterday’s report, Spain continues to be way above the maximum levels of risk, Simón explained. The government’s chief epidemiologist added that he was in agreement with comments made yesterday by senior emergency officer at the World Health Organization (WHO) Catherine Smallwood during an update on the Covid-19 situation in Europe. She said that while the incidence was falling in Spain, there is still very high transmission, and that “the more the virus is among us, the quicker it’s going to be a step ahead of us.”

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.T.Rozas. POOL / Europa Press / Europa Press

The incidence remains double the extreme risk level, as defined by the government, but it is falling faster and faster. Over the last week, it has come down 31%, compared to a 15.33% fall the previous week. Simón insisted on Thursday that the most important objective is to get the transmission rates to the lowest levels possible, before debate is opened as to whether people can take vacations over the upcoming Easter break.

The fall in infections is also being reflected in hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) occupation levels, which are coming down too, albeit at a slower pace. Covid-19 patients are currently taking up 18.27% of ordinary hospital beds, a fall of 17.74% in a week. There are three regions – Canary Islands, Cantabria and Navarre – where this parameter is now below 10%. The decrease is even slower in ICUs. Occupation was at 40.51% in Thursday’s report, 7.64% down from a week before. Castilla y León, Valencia, Madrid and La Rioja are all above 50%.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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