SPAIN’S handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been branded ‘heroic’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Canadian doctor Bruce Aylward, who led the organisation’s mission to the country to analyse its response, was full of praise on Wednesday.
“The response in Spain has been truly heroic, and the work of those on the front line has been extraordinarily innovative,” Aylward said at a press conference.
His comments came after he spent eight days in Spain assessing the country’s tackling of the coronavirus crisis.
Aylward’s mission included visits to health centres in the worst hit region of Madrid and came a month after a similar trip to China, where the virus originated.
He said both missions were the ‘most extraordinary’ in his 40-year career in the field of epidemiology.
Aylward recalled the ‘shocking speed’ at which COVID-19 spread through Spain, from having just two or three new cases per day by February 22 to having cases across every single region two weeks later.
Most of the cases came from Italy and saw the total number multiply by 20 in just seven days in March.
“It reflects the speed at which this disease can explode under certain conditions,” said Aylward.
But once Spain introduced its nationwide lockdown, the doubling of cases was quickly slowed to every five days, explained Aylward.
Some critics have blasted the Spanish government for allowing a couple of large scale events to happen early on, including a Women’s Day march on March 8.
But Aylward said it is ‘difficult to know why the figures exploded’ and to always know ‘what measures are correct and which are not’.
He added that the doubling of cases has slowed drastically, from every two days in early March to every eight as of yesterday.
In his opinion, it suggests that the growing of the epidemic ‘has effectively stopped.’