The first wave of coronavirus caused 354 excess deaths in Malaga province

The first wave of coronavirus caused 354 excess deaths in Malaga province
  • Figures from the Andalusian Institute of Statistics for the second quarter of 2020 give a better understanding of the impact of the virus

The Andalusian Institute of Statistics and Cartography (IECA) has now published the figures for deaths in Malaga province during the second quarter of 2020. This information has made it possible to compare the figures for 2019 and analyse the impact of the first wave of coronavirus, which began in early March although the first case officially reported in the province was on 28 February. During that first wave, there were 354 more deaths locally than there had been in the same period a year earlier.

In the first three months of 2019 there were 3,540 deaths, and 2,977 people died in the following three months. During the same periods in 2020 there were 3,723 and 3,148 deaths, respectively. The total during those first six months of 2019 was 6,517, and in 2020 there were 6,871. The difference is the number of excess deaths during the first wave of the virus.

The excess deaths occurred in a relatively balanced fashion. More people (183) died in the months that coincided with the explosive start of the pandemic, which began in early March, than in the second three months (171). These figures demonstrate the impact of the first wave of the Covid-19 virus.

This figure of 354 excess deaths does not match the official statistics from the Junta de Andalucía. Up until 30 June 2020, the regional government's Health Ministry had announced 287 deaths due to Covid-19. The daily report issued by the Junta used the data which was being provided by the eight provinces of Andalucía. This discrepancy may be due to the fact that the information published at the start of the pandemic, which coincided with several adjustments to the way the figures were being registered, could have been incomplete.

There is also the possibility that the figure for excess deaths included people who had underlying health conditions, or those who did not receive the treatment they needed. Many people stopped going to health centres and hospitals because they were too afraid of catching the virus. Some patients with chronic illnesses found that their treatment had been interrupted.

The figures also enable us to see noticeable peaks in the most vulnerable age groups who suffered from serious illness.

In the 60 to 100-year-old age range there were 177 excess deaths in the first quarter of 2020. Although there can be no official confirmation until the figures are published for the third and fourth quarters of last year, the evolution of the pandemic, which is now in its third wave, means that the figure for excess deaths may have to be corrected.

In Malaga, the total number of deaths from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to the regional Ministry of Health, was 830 as at 15 January 2021. The increase in infections in the third wave, sadly, will mean that figure will be exceeded in the coming days and weeks.

Negative population growth

The figures for the second three months are also worrying in terms of the demographic evolution in the province. More people died than were born in Malaga. From 1 April to 30 June last year, 3,018 babies were born in the province, but if this is cross-referenced with the 3,148 deaths in the same period, we end up with a negative growth of 130.

The first wave of coronavirus caused 354 excess deaths in Malaga province

Nor is this the only data to show a drop in the birth rate in recent years. There were 3,099 births in Malaga province in the second quarter of 2019, and 3,018 last year. The figure for population growth is also negative if we look at the first six months of last year, when there were 6,079 births compared with 6,265 in 2019. In 12 months, the number of births had dropped by 186.

If we look at the figures for the eight provinces in Andalucía, the drop in the birth rate and the negative demographic situation are the same. In the region as a whole there were 15,693 births and 17,382 deaths in the second quarter of 2020.

The figures also show that in Andalucía, the number of births where at least one parent was a foreigner was 2,691, which was 17.1 per cent of the total, and Malaga stands out in particular, because at the end of June that figure was 24.4 per cent.