Covid epidemiological course favourable in Spain and pressure on ICUs decreasing

by Deborah Cater
Covid incidence rate and pressure on ICUs dropping
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With a covid incidence that has fallen to just over 147 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two weeks, Spain is no longer ‘high risk’.  The traffic light is now orange and that means ‘medium risk’.

It is the first time since the end of March the incidence has dropped below 150. This is the critical limit to the phase considered ‘high risk’ by the Ministry of Health. The fourth wave did not lead to an extreme risk in Spain, with an incidence of more than 250 infections per 100,000 inhabitants. Exceptions to this are the Basque Country and the Spanish enclave of Melilla.

More and more people have built up immunity

The fact the mean incidence is now below the symbolic limit of 150 in Spain shows that the fourth epidemiological wave was considerably milder than the previous three. The progress of the vaccination campaign and the fact more people have built up immunity ensured this milder course. According to data from the Ministry of Health, 3,619,848 people in Spain have had the coronavirus, but the actual number is significantly higher. More than 38% of the Spanish population has now received at least one dose of vaccine, which is 15.5 million people.

The last time the incidence in Spain fell below 150 was at the beginning of March this year. Between the end of December and the beginning of March, the number of infections fell from 900 to 149 per 100,000 inhabitants. The December peak was due to the relaxation around the holidays, which also put a lot of pressure on hospitals. During the month of March, the number of infections rose again and that situation put Spain in the ‘high risk’ phase until last Tuesday.

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Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Ceuta have low risk

The epidemiological situation is not the same everywhere in Spain. Ceuta, Valencia and the Balearic Islands have a low risk, ie less than 50 cases of infection per 100,000 inhabitants. After these three regions, Murcia (61), Asturias (69) and Extremadura (79) have the best figures. The situation is still serious in the Basque Country region which registers the most cases with an incidence of 280, followed by Melilla (262). The Madrid region, with an incidence of 249.95, remains just below the transition to “extreme risk”.

Less pressure on ICUs

The declining incidence isn’t the only positive news. With the decrease, the pressure on hospitals and ICUs also fell significantly in Spain. On Tuesday, only 18.03% of ICU beds were occupied by covid patients; that was 18.66% the day before and 22.4% a month earlier.

The pressure on ICUs is now greatest in the Madrid region where covid patients occupy 37.48% of the IC beds. That is in stark contrast to the 3.77% in the Valencia region.

In total, 79,502 deaths have now been registered in Spain as a result of covid-19, though this number is probably much higher. During the first wave, thousands of people died from the coronavirus who were not diagnosed with infection in a laboratory.

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