The total now stands at 13,798, says the Ministry of Health in a bulletin issued this morning. There are now 140,510 confirmed cases, an increase of 5,478 in a day following a week of decline. In addition, 7,069 patients have been admitted to the ICU, 138 more than on Monday, which is more than double in 24 hours, and 2,771 more people have recovered from COVID-19, which is already 43,208, according to the latest data.
Health experts were predicting that hard-hit Spain was approaching the curve of the coronavirus crisis but the latest figures put a dent in those hopes though some are blaming a delay in reporting deaths and infections over the weekend.
There were 637 coronavirus deaths reported on Monday, the lowest daily death toll seen in the country seen since March 24, when there were 514. The drop followed a downward trend that began on Saturday, when daily deaths fell to 809. The figure fell again on Sunday to 674.
The new figures comes as thousands of people living in Spain will be asked to put themselves in total isolation, many of them in empty hotels, to help finalise the spread of coronavirus.
The Spanish Government is distributing a million rapid testing kits to regions all over the country in a bid to find “silent” coronavirus carriers who have no symptoms but are still infectious to others. Those who test positive but need no treatment may then be asked to move into “secure accommodation” to prevent them passing on the deadly virus to others.
The tests will be carried out on those who work in the essential sectors and therefore have the most contact with other people ie workers in supermarkets, transport, police officers, nursing homes, hospitals etc.
Spanish newspapers say it is a device similar to the so-called Noah’s Ark hospitals, which China successfully used to isolate mild cases and curb the virus.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has asked all the autonomous communities to provide him with a list of suitable accommodation where positive but asymptomatic people can live until shown to be negative. It is understood they will be asked to do so on a voluntary basis and will not be forced to do so if they decline.
Minister of Health, Salvador Illa said today that the rapid diagnosis tests have arrived and are now being distributed to the mainland and to the Canaries and Balearics.
In this way, Spain will substantially increase the diagnostic capacity to confirm or rule out the presence of COVID-19 in the population.
The objective of the Ministry, he said, is to make the maximum number of tests possible for people who have symptoms: “15,000 to 20,000 tests are being carried out daily, but it is necessary to increase this capacity for daily diagnosis.”
The tests have a sensitivity of more than 80 percent after the person has been infected for seven or more days. When the patients have just started symptoms, the sensitivity is 64 percent.
The fuller tests, known as PCR, will continue but the rapid tests will serve as a complement to these.
The Health Minister said the Spanish government had set a date of April 10 at the latest for the regions to provide a list of public and private infrastructures for the isolation of asymptomatic citizens who “so wish”.
“We cannot waste the enormous effort people have made with very harsh measures under the State of Emergency,” he said.
Spain’s confinement measures have just been extended until April 26th.