Health workers attend to a Covid patient in an intensive care unit.

Bed occupancy rate of Spanish hospitals by coronavirus patients doubles in a month

The national average Covid-19 incidence rate in those over 60 years of age has risen again and now stands at 1,225, while official Ministry of Health data has recorded another 471 deaths in the last three days

ÁLVARO SOTO

The impact of the seventh wave of Covid-19, pushed by the new Omicron sub variants, has already started to reach the hospitals in Spain. In just one month, the total number of coronavirus patients admitted to the hospital wards has almost doubled, and it has also had an impact, although slightly less strongly, on intensive care unit occupany.

According to the latest report from the national Ministry of Health this Friday (8 July), some 12,080 people are hospitalised in Spain for Covid, compared to the 6,412 who were admitted on 10 June. On that date, coronavirus patients occupied 5.2% of hospital beds on the wards, while this Friday they account for 9.95%, almost touching 10%, which would mean Spain abandoning 'medium risk' and entering the 'high risk' level according to the 'Covid traffic light', agreed by the department and the regions.

Something similar has happened in the ICUs, which care for 508 patients and are at 5.77% occupancy, when on 8 June there was a rate of 3.62%, with 322 patients. Madrid, with 14.59%, and the Basque Country, with 13.01%, are the region with the most coronavirus patients in intensive care units.

Vulnerable sub group

The increase in hospital pressure has its origin in the growth of infections. The cumulative incidence rate in those over 60 years of age, the only one that is measured in the current ‘flu phase’ and stood this Friday at 1,225.28 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, some 90 more than on Tuesday. But the most worrying data appears in those over 80 years of age, the most vulnerable sub group, where the incidence rate has reached 1,641.7.

By regions, La Rioja marks the national maximum with 2,283, followed by Extremadura (1,678) and the Basque Country with 1,460. All regions have an incidence rate above 1,000, except Andalucía, in a much more favourable position, with 482.

Speed

“The good news is that the sharp increase in infections has not been accompanied by an increase in hospital pressure at the same speed,” said the president of the Spanish Association of Vaccinology, Amós García Rojas. But the expert asked the public not to fall "into complacency."

"If there continues to be more infections, for mathematical reasons, there will be more serious cases and more deaths, and that will increase the pressure not only in hospitals, but in all levels of care, including primary care," he said.

Booster jab

The worsening Covid situation in Spain has also caused a notable increase in the number of deaths. In the last three days, the Ministry of Health has added 471 coronavirus deaths, the highest figure since the current ‘flu phase’ began on 1 April. The official Covid death toll since the start of the pandemic, with a positive test, has risen to 108,730.

Despite the fact that the situation is the worst since mid-February, the Health minister Carolina Darias is optimistic that the pandemic curve could be “slowing down”. However, Darias asked those who have not received the vaccine booster to have the third jab. Some 46.2% of people in Spain have not yet received this dose, according to the updated vaccination data published this Friday.

"Many people have not yet received the third dose and you have to know that now, with two doses, you are not well vaccinated," insists García Rojas, who also supports the recommendation to use the mask again, "mainly in closed places and when you are with vulnerable people.”