A year after draconian lockdown, Spain pins hope on vaccines

By Antonia Méndez Ardila

Madrid, Mar 14 (efe-epa).- A year after Spain was plunged into a draconian lockdown as Covid-19 first took hold, the country has just emerged from a third wave and its inhabitants are placing their hopes on the vaccine rollout, although millions have suffered the economic consequences of pandemic restrictions.

On 14 March 2020, the Spanish government ordered the countries 47 million people to stay at home. For three, long months, Spain’s streets were empty as people could only leave their house for essential trips to the doctor, the pharmacy or to buy food.

Twelve months, 3.1 million confirmed cases and more than 72,000 deaths later, Spain is placing its hope on the vaccination process. So far, it has managed to administer 5.3 million doses and around 1.5 million people are fully vaccinated, according to the health ministry.

A total of 72,258 people have died from Covid-19 in Spain and almost everyone in the country has a family member or friend who has died or fallen ill with the disease.

Care homes were an epicenter for the virus during the early days of the pandemic and at least 20,268 residents died from Covid-19 during the first wave, according to data collected from regional authorities, although only a half of those cases were confirmed by tests at the time.

The massive increase of Covid-19 cases brought the Spanish healthcare system to the verge of collapse. Medical staff were forced to work exhausting shifts and, in the early stages, contend with an acute shortage of personal protective equipment and supplies.

During the first lockdown, Spaniards came to their balconies each night at 8pm to applaud the work of the doctors, nurses and other health staff on the frontlines of the pandemic.

In the space of 12 months, the healthcare system has adapted to the crisis and non-emergency patients have become accustomed to GP consultations over the phone.

Spain’s vaccination targets hinge on the distribution strategy drawn up by the European Union, which has been hit by order shortfalls and delays.

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