The Spanish capital of Madrid expects that eight out of ten people will test positive for COVID-19 throughout the crisis, according to its regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso. She noted that while most will experience only mild symptoms, the disease “will be a problem” for 15% of the population classified as vulnerable.
“The virus has been in Spain for a longer time and is going to spread to practically everyone, and in most, it will not leave lasting marks. But the problem is the vulnerable population,” Diaz Ayuso said in Spanish in a radio interview.
Vulnerable are those who are elderly and have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Diaz Ayuso warned that the disease is lethal to this demographic, and that it can “end the life of a person who is in the vulnerable population group” within one to two days.
Madrid is starting to feel the strain in its health care system, having forced to unify healthcare in the private and public sectors. Normal beds have been converted into ICU beds as well.
Spain has seen rapid increases in the number of cases and deaths over the past days. On Thursday, 19 March, the death toll jumped to 767 whilst the infections rose 25% to 17,149. To date, Spain is the second worst-hit country in Europe, next only to Italy.
In response to the pandemic, Spain has closed all hotels and other tourist accommodation for an entire week, yet another blow to the country’s jeopardised tourism industry. It has also closed its borders entirely except for residents and nationals. Triage, decontamination and policing have been part of the strict measures for the outbreak as well.
Despite these measures, Spain expects that the pandemic will continue to worsen. “The toughest moments are still to come, those moments when we will continue to see an increase in the number of cases,” said Health Minister Salvador Illa.