coronavirus

Spain reports 4,013 new coronavirus cases as incidence rate starts to plateau

The Health Ministry added 291 deaths to the official toll on Tuesday, but the figures do not include data from Catalonia, which was unable to update its information due to a computing error

Workers at the Covid-19 wing of Txagorritxu Universitiy Hospital in Vitoria, in the Basque Country.
Workers at the Covid-19 wing of Txagorritxu Universitiy Hospital in Vitoria, in the Basque Country.David Aguilar / EFE

The epidemiological curve of the coronavirus pandemic in Spain is moving toward an increasingly more visible plateau. Although the incidence rate continues to fall, it is doing so at a much slower rate. The 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 139.08, according to the latest Health Ministry report, released on Tuesday. The seven-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants remains practically unchanged since Monday, coming in at 62.43. The Health Ministry reported 4,013 new cases and added 291 deaths to the official toll. These figures, however, do not include data from Catalonia, which was unable to update its information due to a computing error.

As Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), explained on Monday, Spain is entering a stage of the pandemic where the figures are likely to fluctuate, with small upticks and falls. But under the current coronavirus restrictions, there is little margin for the incidence rate to fall much further. What’s more, some Spanish regions – which are in charge of managing the response to the pandemic in their territories as well as overseeing the Covid-19 vaccination drive – are beginning to ease these restrictions, which could lead to a new uptick in cases in the next few days.

Madrid is the region with the highest incidence rate in Spain, with the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants standing at 232

To prevent this from happening, the Health Ministry will ask regional authorities on Wednesday to keep the current measures in place from March 12 until the end of Easter week, even if there is a fall in infections. The goal of this plan is to avoid a new wave from occurring as happened after the Christmas holidays when restrictions on social gatherings and travel were relaxed. The strategy is also aimed at vaccinating more vulnerable people against Covid-19 before there is another spike in cases.

The incidence rate continues to fall in most Spanish regions. In some territories, however, the data point has risen slightly, but it is too soon to say whether this marks an upward trend. This is the case in the Canary Islands, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura, where the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants was up on Tuesday from Monday’s figure, but only by a few decimal points.

The impact of the virus continues to vary greatly from region to region. Madrid is the region with the highest incidence rate, with the 14-day cumulative number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants standing at 232. Only the North African exclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla have a higher rate. Meanwhile in six regions – the Balearic Islands, Castilla-La Mancha, Valencia, Extremadura, Murcia and La Rioja – the incidence rate is below 100.

Pressure on Spain’s hospitals also continues to ease, albeit at a faster rate for admissions into general wards than intensive care units (ICUs). According to Tuesday’s report, Covid-19 patients now occupy 7.54% of standard hospital beds and 23.24% of ICU beds. However, in Asturias, Castilla y León, Madrid and La Rioja, the ICU occupancy rate remains above 30%. At the other end of the spectrum are Extremadura and Galicia, where the figure is below 10%.

English version by Melissa Kitson.


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