Elderly at highest-risk in Spain’s coronavirus epidemic

Ambulance retrieving bodies from Monte Hermoso senior care facility in Madrid on Tuesday. Photo: David Exposito / El País
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Following the deaths from coronavirus of 19 residents at a Madrid senior-care facility Tuesday, concern is mounting for the elderly in Spain as each day makes clearer that coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease the virus causes are especially lethal for people aged 65 and older, particularly those with prior health problems who contract the disease.

At the Monte Hermoso elderly care residence in Madrid, at least 19 residents have died and an estimated 75 other individuals, including residents, carers and staff, were reported to have contracted COVID-19 as coronavirus swept through the facility. In addition, five elderly residents were reported to have died at the Nuestra Señora de la Antigua de Morata care center in Tajuña in the Madrid community, while 15 were reported dead in a residence in Tomellos, in Castilla-La Mancha.

► News Sources: La Vanguardia, La Republica and El País …

Similar incidences have occurred in senior-care residences in the Basque capital of Vitoria, in Soria and in Barcelona, with residences in the provinces of Valencia and Alicante the latest to have been hard-hit by the disease.

On Wednesday, the Valencian regional government announced that the Valencian regional Health Ministry was taking control of all public or privately run elderly care residences in the community where coronavirus outbreaks occur, following detection of 47 cases of contagion in a residence in Torrent and 58 in another in Alcoy.

Spain’s Health Ministry is so far not providing a nationwide breakout by age on the number of cases of COVID-19 detected, but some Spanish news media have put together preliminary breakouts after contacting many of the regional Health ministries around the country.

After studying the COVID-19 related deaths recorded in Andalucia, Aragon, Asturias, the Balearic Islands, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla-León, La Rioja, Navarra, Galicia, Extremadura and Valencia, the daily newspaper La Vanguardia concluded that based on available data those infected by coronavirus who have died in Spain are on average 78-80 years of age.

According to the newspaper, the youngest recorded death was that of a 59-year-old woman with a chronic disease who died in Palma de Mallorca, the next-youngest was aged 65 in Aragon and another aged 68 in Asturias, with the remaining 50 deaths occurring among people aged 70-99 years of age.

Thought official national figures on mortality rates by age are not yet available in Spain, media reports cite trends in Italy and China as the likely scenario for Spain as the COVID-19 epidemic continues.

According to the daily newspaper El País, among people in China and in Italy in their 70s who are infected by the virus, the morality rate has been 8 percent in China and 9.6 percent in Italy. Among those in their 80s in Italy, the mortality rate jumps to 16 percent, while people with COVID-19 in their 90s are facing a mortality rate of 16.6 percent. In China, where numbers have been collected only for age 80 and above, the mortality rate for infected individuals stands at 15 percent.

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