Spain gets ready for ‘worst-case’ coronavirus scenario

A guest looks from the balcony of a hotel that was put under quarantine for coronavirus in the town of Adeje, Tenerife, Spain, 25 February 2020. The hotel was isolated after one of its clients, an Italian tourist, tested positive for contraction with coronavirus. [EPA-EFE/Ramón de la Rocha EPA-EFE/Ramón de la Rocha]

Hospitals in Spain are getting prepared for the “worst-case scenario” in case of a coronavirus spread, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Health ministry experts met on Tuesday (25 February) to prepare and coordinate a “contingency plan” in the case of a health crisis.

Meanwhile in Athens, the government prepared contingency measures but also met with TV news directors and asked them to be “sober” in their reporting when it comes to coronavirus.

The Spanish national health system is ready in case of outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic across the country, EFE reported.

“The first thing to do right now is to change health protocols and have contingency plans ready for what may come,” Jesús Rodríguez Baño, head of the infectious diseases department at the Virgen de la Macarena hospital in Seville (south), told El Pais.

Large hospitals across the country have already put in place specific plans to react quickly in case of a COVID-19 epidemic.

Contingency plans include initiatives to “reinforce teams, enforce personnel protection measures, have the material ready, or define emergency spaces for suspicious cases (…)”, Rodríguez Baño explained.

Spain’s health ministry is also reinforcing dissemination of information for passengers at seaports and airports so that anyone showing symptoms will know what steps to take.

However, passenger screening, border controls and limits on transit will not be implemented at the moment, Spanish health authorities said.

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No panic

In Athens, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with TV channel news editors to discuss the latest coronavirus developments.

Mitsotakis recommended that TV channels should be “calm” in presenting news related to the spread of the virus, noting that society should be properly and objectively informed, without exaggerations that could lead to excessive anxiety or even panic.

They were also asked to consult specialised scientists in their reporting.

More than ten different contingency plans for the spread of coronavirus in the country are ready for implementation by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection. Each of them is based on separate scenarios regarding the incidence area and rate of proliferation.

The “nightmare” scenario, where the pandemic spreads in one of the two biggest cities – Athens and Thessaloniki – envisages the activation of the police and the armed forces, measures to block traffic on large building blocks as well as shutting down the metro.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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