One out of every four Covid-related deaths has been a resident in a care home

Care homes have been affected by the second wave of the coronavirus, despite extra precautions.
Care homes have been affected by the second wave of the coronavirus, despite extra precautions. / EFE
  • Figures show that 26% of deaths in Malaga province were elderly people who lived in care homes and most were infected by asymptomatic workers

The coronavirus has a fatality rate of less than one per cent outside care homes, but the percentage in these homes is much higher. Despite having the data right there on the table, Spain has not been able to protect these residential facilities, where the pandemic is doing its worst. It happened in the first wave and is now being repeated in the second.

At least one in every four Covid-related deaths in Malaga province was an elderly person who lived in a care home, according to the latest figures from the regional government. Of the deaths registered in the province up to 24 November, 26.8 per cent were residents of these homes. The health authorities have announced 161 such deaths, but the lack of testing carried out in the early months of the pandemic means the real figure is certainly higher.

In Andalucía, the figure rises to 32.3 per cent of Covid-related deaths. Granada province has the highest number of deaths in care homes: 252 up to 24 November, just over 33 per cent of all deaths.

Although the infection can severely affect people with no underlying conditions, the over-65s are the highest risk group, as nearly half of all patients (47.9 per cent) who have been in intensive care units in Andalusian hospitals since the start of the pandemic were over the age of 65.

The figure is even more startling when you look at the percentage of deaths among the over-65s: they account for 87.9 per cent of all Covid-related deaths in Andalucía. Most of these victims (73.2 per cent) were aged over 75.

The mortality rate among elderly people in care homes is higher than 20 per cent. Of the 5,830 people diagnosed in Andalucía before 24 November, 1,214 died.

Unions point out that during the second wave, the virus has been brought into care homes by asymptomatic workers even though the Junta has been carrying out weekly tests to detect incipient outbreaks. Early diagnosis is essential to control the spread.

Individual protection

The head of the CC OO union's Sociosanitary Sectors in Malaga, Juan Carlos Navas, is calling for full PPE to be provided for workers: "A lot of them only have masks, nearly always surgical ones, and don't change them every four hours as they are supposed to," he says.

Sources close to the Andalusian government, however, say "it is unbearable" to work in PPE, and the measure is limited to employees who have contact with elderly people who have tested positive or are suspected of being infected.