Spain death toll jumps by over 30% amid patient overflow at hospitals

By Victoria Moreno

Madrid, Mar 21 (EFE).- The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged 32 percent on Saturday, bringing the total number of fatalities to over 1,300 just a week after the government declared a state of alarm.

Over 300 deaths took place from Friday to Saturday and the number of patients hospitalised rose to 13,000, the Health Ministry reported on Saturday.

Of those, 12 percent were in intensive care units, which in the main hotspots of Madrid, Barcelona and the Basque Country are operating at under immense pressure.

The positive data revealed Saturday 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) said in a press conference.

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

Sierra replaced Fernando Simón, spokesperson for the epidemic control centre, who was feeling unwell and had presented Covid-19 symptoms although he had later tested negative for coronavirus.

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,” the Chief of Defense Staff Miguel Ángel Villarroya said.

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 mild symptoms and people under quarantine.

Patricia Lacruz, from the Health Ministry, said that 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 Health Institute in Madrid -national reference centre for the treatment of virus and allergies- 640,000 coronavirus test kits will be ready within the next few days and the country will soon have 1 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 prove if the measures taken so far prove effective in the fight against the virus. EFE


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