The increase in coronavirus cases that Spain has experienced since December 9 is already being noticed in hospitals. The report of the Ministry of Health on Monday showed the first clear rebound, after a downward trend that began in mid-November.
In the logical sequence of the epidemic, which begins with infections, continues with hospital admissions and then in intensive care units and finally reaches deaths, only this last indicator remains on the decline, although it is more than predictable that rise again if hospitalizations continue to grow.
Spain has officially exceeded 50,000 deaths from coronavirus this Monday (50,122), although excess mortality raises this figure to more than 77,000 and the National Institute of Statistics itself confirmed that, at leastDuring the first wave , the vast majority of these unexpected deaths are due to the covid-19 pandemic.
It is difficult to draw clear conclusions from the latest official figures of the pandemic in Spain. After three days without data, with delays due to the holidays, the incidence of this Monday was 246 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the previous 14 days, less than that of the last report, on December 24 (262).
But Fernando Simón himself, director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES), has warned this Monday that this figure cannot be taken as real, that it has a rise in the coming days and that, even if it didn’t happen, it would still be “high”.
To assess the risk in a territory, the threshold of 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants is taken as extreme (in addition to other indicators) and the goal set by Health to consider the epidemic controlled is 25,
The figure is likely to be corrected upward in the coming days. But there will still be no clear picture of what is happening for a few more days. “The assessment of the vacation period from December 24 to 27 will be very complicated because it will overlap with that of January 31 to 3.
If we can be more responsible and strict, it will allow us to fully enter into vaccination in a much more favorable situation, ”said Simón.
What is clear from those numbers is that, even with a possible delay in notifications, the trend in hospitals has changed and has rebounded. The decline that began in mid-November and that had been stagnant for just over a week (with some days of very slight rises and falls) has changed this Monday, when hospital occupancy reached levels of three weeks ago.
This Monday there were 12,172 people admitted to Spain, which represents 10% of the beds occupied in Spanish hospitals and 1,428 more admissions than on Christmas Eve (the last for which there is data). In the intensive care units there were 2,022 patients, an occupation of 21.1% and 115 more than on December 24.
These figures are still far from the highest recorded in this second wave, in which a third of the ICUs were occupied by covid patients. But if Christmas has a negative impact on the pandemic, the situation in hospitals can get complicated in a very short time.
“It was something to be expected in light of the rise in infections,” says Pedro Gullón, from the Spanish Epidemiology Society. It is an effect that, although it did not begin to be noticed in the statistics until December 9, it really corresponds to an increase in the transmission of the end of November.
“Probably the effect of the relaxation of the measures in some communities, purchases, the bridge …”, lists this doctor, who predicts that if the rise in incidence continues, it is likely that hospitalizations will also do so, which leaves a perspective of, “at least”, a complicated January.
The rise, mixed with the uncertainty of the data, occurs at the doors of New Year’s Eve, a date for which “there is a high concern”, in the words of Salvador Illa, Minister of Health.
This Monday, after the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System, he offered both on his part and that of the autonomic managers a gratitude for the behavior of the citizens, “very exemplary and aware” with the messages that the authorities have launched in the face of these holidays and that it has made a “remarkable effort” to comply with the measures.
Illa also asked citizens to “keep their guard very high” and “a lot of prudence”, to move “the least” and limit their contacts to avoid this complicated situation in January.
However, there has not been a generalized tightening of the restrictions in the autonomous communities on Monday for the 31st . The vast majority keep them as they were on Christmas Eve. Some who have reviewed the epidemiological situation this Monday saw no reason to do so.
“We will not know the Christmas data for a few days, and at the end of the year we will not know if we are infected”, justified the Minister of the Interior of the Generalitat. In the review of Navarra and the Balearic Islands, they decided to maintain limitations such as the curfew for New Year’s Eve (at 23:00 in the first and 22:00 in Mallorca) and limitations to six people in meetings.
This last community continues with the highest incidence in Spain (514 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days) and with its upward trend, the same as Extremadura (which is the second, with 400). Madrid, which continues as third (334), however, has fallen compared to 24.
All these data will have to be consolidated in the coming days due to the aforementioned delays. On the other hand, Andalusia, Asturias, the Canary Islands and Castilla y León maintain a rate below 150.
“In communities with a greater increase, such as the Balearic Islands and Extremadura, they are very aware and doing everything possible to control it,” said Simón, who with the figures of this Monday consolidates his position that the change in trend occurred on December 9 and that the bridge of the Constitution, although it may have influenced something, was not decisive for this increase.