Spain comes to Christmas in full explosion of infections and without the sixth wave reaching a ceiling. Although up to now the effect of vaccination (almost 80% of the population already has the complete schedule) has largely cushioned the increase in cases in the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, the increase in transmission is beginning to be noticed in healthcare pressure. In 18 provinces, more than 20% of intensive care beds are occupied by patients with a COVID clinic, and 32 exceed 5% hospital occupancy for the same reason.
With ICUs at 60% of their capacity for patients with coronavirus, Girona is the most affected province, followed by Huesca (50%), Lleida (49%) and Palencia (45%). Regarding hospital beds, Lleida, Huesca, Girona and Castellón are the provinces where the pressure is higher than 11%. In general terms, in the last week ICU admissions have increased by 17% in the last week and hospitalizations by 19%.
Despite the bad data and the bad trend (infections continue to increase rapidly throughout the territory and the incidence exceeds 911 cases per 100,000 inhabitants nationwide), the explosive sixth wave is not having a devastating effect on mortality, as it did in previous waves. In the last seven days the Ministry of Health has reported 352 deaths, 1.7% more than last week.
To see the situation of the pandemic in Spain in more detail, the map above shows the main variables. First, the bed occupancy rate by COVID-19 patients in each province. Then, the general rate of cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks and the trend of infections in each province, that is, if the cases are increasing 📈 or decreasing 📉. Finally, the total confirmed deaths in each province since the start of the pandemic are shown.
These data are published by the ISCIII (Instituto de Salud Carlos III) through the National Epidemiological Surveillance Network (RENAVE) and it does so by date of diagnosis or, in its absence, the date of onset of symptoms or declaration. It must be taken into account that the data for the last week may be slightly underestimated due to the delays in notifications from the autonomous communities.
The data indicate that in the last two weeks, cases have been increasing 🟦 in the 52 provinces (in all of them at a high speed 🟦 🟦), only 1 is in the plateau phase ⬜ and none in decline 🟩. We show the curves of new daily cases in each province grouped according to their situation: from more alarming ⚠️ to more positive ✅. How many provinces have many cases per inhabitant and are they continuing to rise? Which ones have flattened the contagion curve? And in which cases are there few but the virus is spreading very fast? To avoid detection peaks on a specific day, the average of both figures including the last seven days has also been calculated.
👉 It is important to bear in mind that the current infection figures are not comparable with the curve recorded at the beginning of the pandemic. The number of tests carried out now compared to those that were carried out in March has nothing to do with it, and neither does the strategy. Eight months ago, only the cases of those people who came to hospitals in the most serious condition were detected, that is, “the tip of the iceberg.” Now mild cases are tested and a percentage of asymptomatic or presymptomatic is detected, thanks to contact tracing. Hence, the incidence record in January cannot be compared to the peak incidence reached in the first wave, but it can be compared to that of the second.
Since the pandemic began, the evolution of the stages of the disease has followed the same pattern: the rise in infections is noted first in hospitals, then in ICU admissions and, finally, in the death toll. And vice versa: the last indicator where the fall in infections is noted is deaths. But after March 2021, this sequence was cut. Deaths barely rose after the increase in infections. This pattern was repeated in the fifth and, for now, in the sixth wave.
The drop in deaths since the end of March overlaps with the advance in vaccination. The more elderly population vaccinated, the more the deceased have fallen throughout the country. Even so, there are 9 provinces that have registered more than five deaths with COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 30 days. Ávila (16), Huesca (15) and Teruel (14) are the most affected in this regard. It must be taken into account that the communities notify their deceased with a long delay compared to confirmed cases, as explained by elDiario.es. Therefore, the data of the last weeks could be underestimated.
To have more information on each province, the following tab provides data on infections, deaths and the most recent hospitalizations in each of them, as well as the trend of these indicators in recent weeks.
The provinces with the most infections
The infections are triggered in a generalized way throughout the territory. The situation is especially remarkable in the north of the country. Valladolid (1,902 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days), Gipuzkoa (1,802), Navarra (1,760) and La Rioja (1,625) are the provinces where the most new cases are being detected. In another 11 the incidence also exceeds 1,000 cases, which means that every two weeks 1% of the population is becoming infected.
Only in seven provinces is the incidence below 500 cases, the threshold that the Ministry of Health set as a very high risk in its review of the semaphore of indicators this fall. Cuenca is today the one with the best situation with an incidence of 282 cases.
The following table allows ordering the provinces according to different criteria: the number of cases and the incidence per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days. The hospital occupancy levels and accumulated deaths in the last 30 days per 100,000 inhabitants are also shown.
This sixth wave, which is still growing, is leaving record numbers in many provinces. In 10 of them, the highest incidence since the beginning of the pandemic has been registered this week. These are all of the Basque Country, La Rioja, Navarra, Pontevedra, Valladolid, Zaragoza and both Canary provinces. In Cantabria, Madrid and Huesca the incidence is very close to the maximum peak recorded in previous waves.
The following graph compares the curves of incidence in 14 days and daily deaths by date of diagnosis of the 52 Spanish provinces. The figures are adjusted to the population of each one of them.