AS the country freezes in some of the coldest temperatures on record and the capital lies under a blanket of snow for the first time in decades, the countries infrastructure is buckling under the pressure.

Storm Filomena has well and truly left parts of Spain and the UK shivering as heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures have left road networks in chaos.

Almost 50 centimetres of snow fell in Madrid last week and in parts of northern Spain, temperatures dropped to -30 degrees.

In total, four people have perished in the storm including a snow worker who got caught in an avalanche and a woman who was hit by a falling tree branch.

The turmoil on the roads has also caught Spain as it experiences one of its worst weeks of its COVID-19 third wave.

According to figures, 61,442 new cases have been recorded over the weekend in what is a historic record since the pandemic began.

Vaccines are desperately trying to be distributed across the country to help combat the spread, but many trucks have been left stranded due to the snow.

Police personnel have been drafted in to create convoys to ensure the vaccines reach their destinations, including a shipment of 300,000 doses that is expected to reach their municipalities this week.

Supermarkets have also been left bare, with many forecasting the storm last week and stocking up on supplies before the worst of the weather hit.

This, along with deliveries being severely disrupted, have left many supermarkets, especially in the centre of the country, without many essentials such as meat and vegetables.

According to a spokesman from the Spanish Association of Distributors, deliveries are slowly getting back to normal but many areas could take up to a week to regain stock.

What is perhaps one of the most concerning aspects of the timing of storm Filomena is the impact on the elderly and regional ICUs.

The Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles led a press conference yesterday addressing the enormous strain the cold weather has placed on the country’s hospitals.

According to figures, trips and falls account for 60% of ICU entries across the board, and represent an increase of 36% of footfall across hospital doors.

The freezing temperatures are also increasing cases of pneumonia and bronchitis, leading to health services to be stretched to the brim.

Robles has urged those with mobility problems, the vulnerable or even anyone who is doubting the conditions outside to avoid leaving their homes unless extremely necessary.

During the press conference, Robles suggested to the central government that Madrid be classed as a ‘catastrophic area’ due to the damage caused by the storm.

“The necessary protection will be given to the citizens of Madrid and the rest of the affected communities and in the shortest possible time,” she said.

In response to the extraordinary acts by Madrid’s health workers, who were forced to abandon their cars and walk 22 kilometres to work in the snow, Health Minister Salavador Illa took to Twitter to show his gratitude.

“The commitment that the entire group of health workers is showing is an example of solidarity and dedication.”

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