“We are not doing well”, stated the Minister of Health of Spain, Salvador Illa, before Christmas, when it began to launch more restrictive measures for the end of the year meetings. Since then, the contagion curve continues to rise throughout that country and began to modify the daily activity in the hospitals.
The newspaper The country reported that in the case of the Valencian Community, with a 14-day cumulative incidence of 609 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and 45% of ICU beds occupied by patients with COVID-19, “has already ordered the suspension of operations and non-urgent diagnostic tests to respond to the growing number of coronavirus patients. Hospitals in Catalonia and Galicia also accuse the saturation and have begun to deprogram non-urgent activity”.
“The forecasts are very bad and the slope of the epidemic curve is being almost vertical. As we continue like this, in 15 days, hospitals will begin to collapse ”, he warns Javier Garcia Fernandez, President of the Spanish Society of Anesthesiology. Since Christmas, COVID hospitalizations have grown 69% (there are 18,215 entered) and occupancy in ICUs has risen 44% (There are 2,744 critically ill with COVID).
Faced with this perspective health centers fear a new saturation that is not noticeably perceived by virtue of the “trickle-down” effect upon arrival from the patients.
Extremadura, reported the same newspaper, with the highest cumulative incidence in Spain (1,131 cases per 100,000 inhabitants), has not yet had to suspend hospital activity, but “that possibility is being considered” in some health areas, says a spokesman for the regional executive.
On the other hand, the Valencian Government has not only given instructions to suspend non-urgent activity, but also to enable more beds and prepare some 280 places in field hospitals to which to refer mild cases of COVID in case of collapse. In addition, some 35 patients with other ailments have been diverted to private healthcare and the Elche hospital has emptied its chapel to place beds if necessary.
In Catalonia, the situation is more heterogeneous depending on the center, but all share the fear of impending saturation. “We are quite stressed, but for now we have not deprogrammed and we will try to hold out as much as possible. If the rhythm is maintained, we will have to de-program in a few days or next week“Says a spokesman for the Clinic of Barcelona.
In certain places, although few, the situation retains hints of normality. Thus, for example, the Vall d’Hebron maintains the activity intact, but the Sant Pau, which has around thirty patients in the ICU and 88 in regular hospitalization, had to cancel the non-urgent interventions this week. El del Mar has a traditional ICU full of COVID patients and it is reported that it has closed three operating rooms because it needs post-surgical resuscitation units for critically ill patients with other pathologies. In Girona, activity has also been reduced by closing four operating rooms.
In Galicia, terminations of other health care are punctual The president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, publicly assured.
The Clinical Hospital of Malaga has just allocated new resources to its ICU, which was expanded this winter, as well as a space dedicated exclusively to the care of patients with coronavirus. In those of Cádiz is trying to accelerate operations that require less than three days of entry and those that do not require hospitalization.
Madrid still seems to be exempt from the implications of a new pandemic effect. Although the average indices remain high, since they are around the 627 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, there is still a natural bias in health management. According to the centers, the inclement weather produced more delays in scheduled surgeries due to the delays in the provision of plasma, than the health demands caused by the coronavirus.
The same health professionals, agree that the virulence of the new strains, past postponements in other areas of healthcare that, at some point, become urgent, the fatigue of the hospital staff and civil fatigue will cause serious difficulties in this third wave that is just beginning to form and it will impact on already flooded land.