Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Spain sets up more field hospitals amid COVID-19 spike

Number of hospitalized patients shoot up by nearly 1,000 on Tuesday

Alyssa McMurtry   | 12.01.2021
Spain sets up more field hospitals amid COVID-19 spike File Photo

OVIEDO, Spain

More beds were added to Spanish field hospitals on Tuesday after the country registered a large spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations and contagions continued to snowball.

Daily deaths also rose to 408, bringing the country’s official death toll to 52,683 as it braces for a third deadly wave of the pandemic.

Daily infections reached near-record levels on Tuesday, with the Health Ministry reporting 25,438 new cases. At a national level, more than 16% of all coronavirus tests are coming back positive.

In Valencia, one of the hardest-hit regions, the test positivity rate is around 30%.

It is precisely in Valencia where authorities announced they were adding 280 more beds to field hospitals Tuesday to cope with overflowing hospitals.

At the moment, 43% of all the region’s intensive care units are being used by COVID-19 patients and more than a quarter of all available hospital beds, including temporary ones.

Elsewhere, the situation is becoming as critical in the regions of Extremadura and the Balearic Islands. Infections in Madrid and Catalonia are also pushing hospitals to the brink.

In many places, the pressure on hospitals is being compounded by record-breaking snow and cold weather across Spain, which doctors say have increased the number of injuries and people seeking medical help.

Catalan's Health Minister Alba Verges said in total, the region’s ICUs have exceeded 83% capacity – half of which are being used to help save the lives of COVID-19 patients.

On Tuesday, Spain registered a spike of 853 COVID-19 patients in regular hospital beds and 140 more in ICUs -- nearly triple the surge observed on the same day of last week.

Meanwhile, the first doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Spain on Tuesday. The first shipment contained 35,700 doses but the weekly loads are expected to gradually increase, with Spain expecting a total of nearly 600,000 doses to arrive by late February.

Currently, Spain is receiving around 350,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine each week. According to the Health Ministry, more than 400,000 shots have been administered.

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