The worst is yet to come

By Julia R. Arévalo

Madrid, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- The worst is yet to come for Spain, the fourth global Covid-19 hotspot. Health authorities warned Spaniards Thursday to continue resisting at home and said the disease was yet to reach its peak.

“The toughest moments are coming,” said Health Minister Salvador Illa.

“Those in which we continue to see an increase of more cases while, over the coming days, we approach the peak,” he added.

Shortly before, the latest official data was revealed: 17,147 confirmed cases, 767 deaths and 939 people fighting for their lives in intensive care units.

So far 1,107 have recovered, a fact that is not often highlighted during the times of anguish so many Spanish families are experiencing today. Some suffer from the worry of loved ones diagnosed with Covid-19, others with the despair that other illnesses will not be given priority. Some live with the knowledge older family members are alone, and others are afraid they have become ill but know there are not enough tests for everyone.

The news that is flooding the media on Thursday is the number of outbreaks registered in care homes across the country where 60 vulnerable older people have died in the last two days.

The spokesman for the emergency centre for the pandemic, Fernando Simón, acknowledged there were problems in these centres.

Simón also noted that the mortality rate of Covid-19 among older Spaniards, around 18 percent in those over 75, “does not exceed the fatality rate that has been observed in other countries in equivalent groups.”

Care homes serve a sector of the population that is not being admitted to hospital emergency rooms in this crisis.

Many lack the necessary tools to protect employees, and all of them lack the required medical equipment needed to tackle a health crisis of this magnitude.

Second Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias announced 300 million euros would be distributed on a regional level to help the most vulnerable: homeless people, those in a state of welfare dependency and older people living in care and nursing homes.

“There is an urgent need to medicalize these centres,” he said.

Everything is urgent now.

The government announces response measures daily in a bid to prepare for the imminent arrival of the peak of transmissions.

On Thursday it was the news that thousands of beds had been prepared in hotels that had been medicalized to cater for people in need of quarantine and mild Covid-19 cases, as well as the distribution of 1.5 million masks.

Illa also reported 8,000 recently trained doctors, 11,000 unemployed nurses, 7,000 final-year medical students and 10,000 trainee nurses would be deployed to tackle the health crisis.

Today is the fifth day of confinement for the majority of 47 million Spaniards, save those who have to go to work in hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies, essential shops and companies that do not provide teleworking to employees.

Simón urged them to “withstand the tension” and follow the order of social isolation with discipline.

Every day, at 8:00 pm the closest social contact for many occurs on balconies and windows when people venture out to applaud their health workers.

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