There have been 56,188 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Spain, and the death toll has climbed to a staggering 4,089. The sudden overwhelming of Spain’s healthcare system started off with the Spanish government’s slow response in February, claim experts. Spain is now facing the world’s most deadly outbreak, as it stands just behind Italy – which has seen 7,503 deaths.
Throughout February and the early weeks of March, Spain laid their focus on containment of the virus, especially in cases they thought were isolated as they were brought in from abroad.
But, given the lengthy incubation period of coronavirus, this was an ineffective move.
The decision to allow mass gatherings to continue throughout the first weekend of March was also a mistake.
Two female cabinet ministers and the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tested positive for COVID-19 just days after attending huge International Women’s Day rally in Madrid.
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In the days leading up to the lockdown decision, a special cabinet meeting was held on March 12 to announce measures to preserve the economy.
Prime Minister Sanchez, however, later announced that another government meeting would be held to discuss provisions for citizens and come up with a State of Emergency contingency plan.
The delay in implementing a lockdown meant that many people living in Madrid, along with their children, made trips to holiday homes in other regions of the country – spreading the virus even further.
Leaders of several Spanish regions, including Catalonia, called for Madrid to be locked down from the rest of the country but the government did not do so.
Here Godoy, president of the Spanish Epidemiology Society said: “I think it was a mistake to allow the large geographical dispersion of people that occurred in the days before the lockdown came into effect, and this may have facilitated the spread of the virus.”
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Testing in the country was also inefficient, and they only reached 15-20,000 tests this week, finally catching up with other European countries like Germany – which has less cases.
A lock of personal protective equipment for frontline health workers also played a huge role in creating the results we see today.
More than 10 percent of confirmed cases are among medical staff, which further cripples the health system and reduces their ability to treat patients.
Spain’s healthcare system is among one of the best in Europe, but even that has been no match for the powerful coronavirus that has seen deaths multiply by twelve in the last ten days.
The number of patients requiring intensive care in the country has risen from 382 on March 15 – the day the country was placed in lockdown – to 3,166.
Essential equipment like ventilators and coronavirus tests are only just being sourced.
The lockdown has been enforced by authorities and police, who have been handing out fines to people not complying.
As a result, Spain could see the worst of COVID-19 very soon, and the curve of deaths should begin to flatten when the month-long quarantine ends in April.
That, in no way, means that Spain is out of the woods though.
When all this is over, Spain will be economically fragile as it struggles to recover from the 2008 financial crisis – which saw unemployment soar to 27 percent – among the worst in Europe.
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