Over 2,000 dead in Spain, patients lie on the ground in overcrowded hospitals

In Spain, a further 462 people succumbed to the new coronavirus in 24 hours; authorities said this in the afternoon. Since the outbreak of the disease, 2,182 people in Spain have not survived Covid-19. In three days, the number of deaths has more than doubled in the second most affected country in Europe. The surprise of the Spanish hospitals is complete.

Where 28,572 infections were registered in Spain yesterday, this number climbed to 33,089 cases this afternoon. Last weekend, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez warned his countrymen that “the worst is yet to come”. Figures may increase further rapidly this week. Spain is currently in a worse position to spread the virus than Italy. At the same time, that counted “only” half of the Spanish deaths today. In absolute figures, Italy still has the most deaths, with almost 5,500.

Sick on the ground

The most affected in Spain remains capital Madrid with 10,575 infections and 1,263 deaths. It is mainly there that the health system threatens to collapse. This weekend, images circulated on social media from the Infanta Leonor hospital in the city, where patients had to lie on the floor due to a lack of beds.

According to the authorities, the images were taken at a peak moment, and everyone eventually got a bed. Still, people with mild symptoms are asked not to report to the hospital right away because the demand is too high. In many hospitals, the intensive care units are already more than double their capacity.

Funerarium stops for lack of resources

It is also problematic that more and more health workers are becoming infected: with almost 4,000 infections, they already make up 12 percent of the total number of cases. Many nurses and doctors have been complaining for weeks that there is a shortage of protective equipment.

Of the fatalities, 86 percent are over 70, but even young Spaniards do not survive the virus or are in the hospital for weeks with severe symptoms. In Madrid, so many patients have died in recent days that the municipal funerary informed the National Ministry of Health that it should close its doors tomorrow. All materials and resources for burying or cremating the dead have been exhausted.

Thousands of beds in the conference center

In recent days, the Madrid region had a temporary hospital quickly erected in a large conference center, where new patients can go. In the first phase, there are 1,300 regular and 96 intensive care beds available; later, another 5,000 can be added.

Hundreds of beds have been placed in a conference center in Madrid.
©AFP – Hundreds of beds have been placed in a conference center in Madrid.

The transport of patients to hospitals where beds are still available started on Friday. The army has been deployed. The country also plans to increase the number of tests in the coming days drastically.

Borders closed

Spain closed its borders to all foreigners yesterday, not only on the road but also at airports and seaports. The state of emergency and associated lockdown measures will be extended by at least two weeks from this week until April 11. Spaniards are only allowed to come outside to go to the store or pharmacist, or to go to work. This weekend, however, many city dwellers set out for the coastal areas or other tourist regions. Police had their hands full with checks and handed out hefty fines.

Various regional governments, such as Catalonia and Murcia, ask that the central government, like in Italy, shut down all companies. For the time being, Sánchez does not want to go into that yet.

This morning it was also announced that 62-year-old Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo had been hospitalized with a respiratory infection. The result of her corona test is not yet known. Two other ministers and Prime Minister Sánchez’s wife were also infected earlier.

Over 2,000 dead in Spain, patients lie on the ground in overcrowded hospitals
©Getty Images – A field hospital in Madrid

El Pais, El Mundo, Reuters
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