THE new Estepona Hospital has opened ahead of schedule today in a bid to relieve the pressure of COVID-19 currently being felt throughout Malaga province. 

Under the management of the Andalucia Health Service (SAS), the hospital began receiving coronavirus patients from Marbella’s embattled Hospital Costa del Sol on Tuesday.

With Andalucia and Malaga seeing more COVID patients than ever before, the transferring of patients could not wait until the official opening date, scheduled for February 8. 

BRAND NEW: Estepona Hospital has been roped into the coronavirus battle

All those being transferred are in a stable condition, ABC reported. 

It comes after Marbella and Estepona were forced to close all non-essential businesses in January after surpassing 14-day incidence rates of 1,000 cases per 100,000 people. 

As of today, the incidence rate in Marbella is 1,260 and in Estepona 1,093. 

Meanwhile neighbouring Manilva and Ojen have respective rates of 1,268 and 1,126.

While infections have cooled over the past couple of days, hospital pressure and deaths have continued to rise, with Tuesday seeing the blackest day of the pandemic in Andalucia (106 deaths). 

The opening of Estepona Hospital is part of Andalucia’s plan to free up 7,500 beds for the disease following an ‘explosion’ of cases during the third wave. 

The field hospital of Carranque has also been set up outside the Carlos Haya Regional Hospital in Malaga city. It currently has capacity for 140 beds but can be expanded to fit 400. 

The Estepona Hospital was built in record time, starting in mid-2017 and finishing by December 2018, however it has not opened until this week. 

The brainchild of popular mayor Jose Maria Garcia Urbano, it is hoped to attend to around 135,000 people per year and take immense pressure off of its Costa del Sol counterpart.

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