Doctors in Spain are preparing to make difficult decisions as the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care continues to rise. Hospitals in hard-hit regions like Madrid are quickly reaching capacity while the number of cases keeps growing and officials warn that “the worst is yet to come.”
By Friday afternoon, Spain had registered 1,002 deaths, a 30% rise from 24 hours earlier. And the number of people in intensive care had grown by 21.5%, for a total of 1,141 patients, El Pais reports.
These two indicators are particularly relevant in tracking the spread of the disease, because the actual number of cases “is very likely” higher than what is officially reported due to a lack of testing, said Fernando Simón, the head of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Emergencies and Alerts, and one of the most visible faces of the crisis management effort.
The country, which has been in an official “state of alarm” since Monday, had 19,980 cases as of Friday, with 35 percent of those in the Madrid region and 16 percent in Catalonia. Experts warn Spain is about a week behind Italy, which has been the worst-hit country in the world, POLITICO reports.
The public health system is coming under unprecedented levels of pressure, with more than 1,100 patients in intensive care. Under the strict rules of the state of alarm, which are enforced by the police and the military, Spaniards can only leave their houses to buy groceries or medicines, walk their dogs and go to work if absolutely necessary. Going jogging or cycling has been banned (a move that’s proven very unpopular), as have funerals, weddings and all social gatherings.
“However, health officials are struggling to explain why these stringent measures do not seem to have worked. Fernando Simón, an epidemiologist who runs the Center for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies at the Spanish ministry of health, argues more time needs to pass before the lockdown starts to have an impact.”
“The tough days are coming, we need to become aware. We need to keep the pressure, we need to achieve [victory] and as soon as possible,” he said, before admitting he feels exhausted and the situation is starting to wear him down.