Numbers chaos over testing, non-hospital deaths count

Daily progression of deaths from COVID-19 in Spain as of 15th April. Graphic:
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Spain’s Health Ministry reported a slight decrease in the number of deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, while noting a sharp increase of some 5,000 new cases of the coronavirus, a sharp jump from the daily increase of cases that authorities attributed to the expansion of testing of asymptomatic individuals nationwide.

But, the increase in cases comes as the reporting of new cases and deaths from the regional health services of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities seems to be in chaos, with sharp increases in some regions occurring in both the tabulation of new cases and of deaths from coronavirus occuring outside hospitals.

In Andalucia, regional health officials have just begun to count new cases found among asymptomatic individuals through testing and say it will take them several days to align their reporting criteria with the national procedures for tabulation. At the same time, the number of deaths in elder-care residences and hospitals being reported in the region do not align with the numbers for Andalucia being reported by the national Health Ministry.

Regional health officials in Madrid had reportedly failed to count some 4,801 deaths outside hospitals of individuals who demonstrated COVID-19 symptoms, including 4,172 who died in elder-care residences and 629 who died in their own homes. And comparison of data compiled by Spain’s Social Affairs and Health Ministries reportedly show that there are nearly 5,000 deaths in Madrid that have so far not been included in the national total.

► News Sources: 20minutos, Público and El Diario …

In Catalonia, regional health authorities have changed the way they count new cases and deaths from COVID-19 based on more exhaustive data. Health authorities now say they believe there are as many as 55,457 additional cases of coronavirus infection in the region among individuals who show no symptoms.

And, based on reports now being received from funeral homes in Catalonia, health offcials there say they have detected additional deaths from COVID-19, including 1,810 occuring in elder-care residences, 62 in social health centres and 456 individuals who died of COVID-19 at home.

Spanish Health Ministry officials cautioned that the sharp rise in new cases reported on Wednesday was temporary and owing to the efforts to align reporting criteria across all of the 17 regions, but do not reflect an increase in the actual transmission rate of the virus.

Still, even as the daily increase in the number of deaths and hospitalized individuals continues to fall, the corrected figures show that there have been a large number of previously unreported infections and deaths that when incorporated into the national counts will show Spain’s figures on new cases and deaths to have been under-reported over the past several weeks.

► Click to read more news about Spain’s Coronavirus crisis …

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