‘THE worst days are coming.’
Those were the frank words from Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa today as the number of deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 1,000.
The death toll and case load (just below 20,000) will continue to increase in the coming days before reaching a peak before – it is hoped – beginning a decline.
It comes after director of health emergencies Fernando Simon told press this morning that some ICUs in the country are ‘under stress’ and have ‘reached their limits.’
Most of those are in Madrid, where health authorities have complained of a lack of medical supplies, including rapid test kits, protective gear and respirators.
Illa said today the much-needed equipment would begin arriving ‘in the coming days,’ but that’s the same line he has given for much of this week.
He added that a field hospital has been set up by the military in the IFEMA feria area in Madrid which will provide 5,500 beds.
It comes after Leganes hospital, also in Madrid, was forced to close its doors yesterday as it reached full capacity.
“It is true that some hospitals have reached their limit,” admitted Simon, who added that ICUs will have to start prioritising patients.
According to El Mundo, the Health Ministry is working on a new protocol on how to choose which patients are admitted to ICU, accounting for factors such as age and life expectancy.
Simon said: “Not all (COVID-19) patients with conditions are admitted into ICU…But its true that right now there is some overloading, which means the most restrictive criteria will have to be applied.”
Meanwhile, Illa ruled out strengthening the lockdown measures currently in force across Spain, saying they are among the toughest in the world.
“If they are strictly adhered to, they will help us defeat the virus,” he said.
He added that Spain must ‘keep up the pressure’ as ‘the difficult, hard days are coming.’