Spain’s coronavirus death toll rises 32% as hospitals near capacity

There were over 300 deaths from Friday to Saturday and the number of patients hospitalised rose to 13,000, the health ministry reported on Saturday.  [EPA-EFE/MADRID REGIONAL GOVERNMENT]

The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged 32% on Saturday (21 March), bringing the total number of fatalities to over 1,300 just a week after the government declared a state of emergency. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports. 

There were more than 300 deaths from Friday to Saturday and the number of hospitalised patients rose to 13,000, the health ministry reported on Saturday. 

However, a significant number of patients were moved between centres due to a lack of beds in many hospitals. “Some patients were moved from one hospital to another centre,” said the Chief of Defence Staff Miguel Ángel Villarroya. 

Villarroya said that military units are setting up some 5,500 beds for the seriously ill at the Ifema conference hall in Madrid and that some hotels in the capital will house patients with milder symptoms and people under quarantine.

The positive news

The positive data revealed on Saturday (21 March) was the number of patients discharged. “At least 2,000 patients were sent home,” María José Sierra from the Coordinating Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAE) told a press conference.

Sierra replaced Fernando Simón, spokesperson for the epidemic control centre, who had displayed COVID-19 symptoms and was feeling unwell but later tested negative for coronavirus.

Sierra added that in Spain, with 25,000 confirmed infections, the death rate of coronavirus is 5% and more than half of the hospitalised patients “are over 70 years old.”

Patricia Lacruz, from the health ministry, said the government is working to guarantee the supply of equipment to all the regions and urged state companies to increase production levels.

“Today we distributed 500,000 masks for healthcare personnel and 800,000 for patients,” Lacruz added. According to Raquel Yoti, an expert from the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, 640,000 coronavirus test kits will be ready within the next few days and the country will soon have one million available.

Spain is currently the world’s third-largest COVID-19 hotspot, followed by Iran and only Italy and China, which on Saturday saw zero local infections for the third consecutive day. 

Experts have said that next week will be key to see if the measures taken so far are proving to be effective in the fight against the virus.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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