Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 up 50% over the last week

For the third consecutive day, Catalonia has hit another record high number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases

Medical professionals attend to a Covid-19 patient in an ICU in Hospital del Mar, Barcelona (by Laura Fíguls)
Medical professionals attend to a Covid-19 patient in an ICU in Hospital del Mar, Barcelona (by Laura Fíguls) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 9, 2021 11:30 AM

According to the latest Covid-19 update provided by Catalan health authorities on Friday morning, there are now 717 people in hospital due to the coronavirus, up 54 from the previous day. 

One week earlier, there were 475 people requiring medical attention due to the pandemic, showing a total rise of 242 patients, equivalent to an increase of 50.9%. 

For the third consecutive day, Catalonia has seen yet another all-time record high number of newly confirmed Covid-19 cases. The latest update shows 8,017 new positives, surpassing the previous highs seen on Thursday (7,866) and Wednesday (7,100). 

Prior to this month, the highest number of new cases reported in a day was 6,981 infections seen on January 11, 2021. 

The latest wave of the pandemic began two weeks ago and is affecting mostly young people, with the average age of new infections seen over the last fortnight sitting in the mid-20s. 

As such, the explosion of new cases was initially not seen in hospitals, but medical centres have seen a sharp rise in admissions over the last week. 

Barcelona's Hospital del Mar has opened a new Covid ward after seeing its number of admissions for the coronavirus quadrupling, with about 40 currently.

Hospital Clinic has also had to reopen one floor, while Hospital Sant Pau has gone from having 0-2 admissions a day to 5-7 and now has 21 patients on a conventional ward.

Most admissions are aged between 20 and 45 and, despite having severe symptoms, do not require intensive care.

"Hospitalized patients are young, between the ages of 25-28 and 45," says Dr. Juan Pablo Horcajada, who coordinates Hospital del Mar's Covid-19 efforts. "There are a lot of people in their thirties. There is also a small percentage of elderly people for whom the vaccine did not work."

Hospitals fear that the rampant increase in cases in recent weeks will soon translate into ICU admissions in the coming days and urge for caution and more action.

Over the last week, an extra 27 patients were sent into ICU. In the data provided for July 1, there were 115 patients in ICU with Covid-19, whereas the latest update has shown there are now 142.

Attempts to control surging figures

In response to this, health authorities opened up the vaccine rollout to all adults over the age of 16 at the end of June. The nightlife sector has also been ordered to shut its indoor spaces from Friday, July 9, only a couple of weeks after reopening, with the government spokesperson admitting that a "few steps back" needed to be taken. 

The deteriorating situation also led to French authorities recommending its citizens against travelling to Catalonia, where the 14-day case notification rate per 100,000 people is much higher than in other parts of Europe. 

In order to break up large maskless crowds of people in Barcelona, mayor Ada Colau stated that this weekend there would be more local officers on patrol. The mayor has also asked the interior department for an increased presence of Mossos d'Esquadra police in the Catalan capital. 

Epidemiology expert says such mass events are unwise

The head of the preventive medicine and epidemiology service at Vall d'Hebron Hospital, Magda Campins, believes it is unwise to hold mass events such as the Cruïlla music festival in the current pandemic state. 

Speaking on Catalunya Ràdio, she said that in the same way that nightlife has been closed because so many outbreaks have been detected, these kinds of gatherings can be superspreader events. 

She also believes even though antigen tests are carried out and the rules state that masks need to be worn at all times, situations still occur where the health measures are not adhered to. 

Campins also stated that more time limits and re-introducing the nightly curfew could help to stop growth if a greater impact is seen in hospitals.

The doctor’s primary worry is the increase in cases leading to the possibility of a new variant appearing that current vaccines are ineffective against, and she strongly advises against going on holiday abroad and only to have small social gatherings.

Other key indicators

The outbreak risk has now seen four consecutive days of record highs. In the latest update, this figure stands at 1,753, whereas over 100 points in this indicator is considered a ‘high’ risk of outbreak. The metric has seen an almost tenfold increase over the past ten days. 

The outbreak risk is calculated using the iEPG index by multiplying the average spread of the virus over the past seven days by the cumulative incidence over the past two weeks.

Additionally, the incidence rate - the number of cases seen over the past 14 days per 100,000 population - has skyrocketed also, from 94 to 436 in the last fortnight. 

The transmission rate now stands at 3.21 - the average number of times a person with Covid-19 will pass it on to another person, indicating rapid reproduction of the virus. Amongst younger generations this figure is much higher: between 8 and 10 people become infected per every confirmed case, as explained by the health minister Josep Maria Argimon on Wednesday. 

Vaccination campaign

Health authorities insist that the perceived risk of the pandemic is overall quite low despite the rising case numbers and incidence rate largely thanks to the success of the vaccination campaign.

More than 40% of Catalonia’s population is already fully immunized, with either two doses of a jab that require it, one dose of the Janssen vaccine, or else one dose of another brand if the person has already had and recovered from the virus. 

As of July 8, 2021, 4,492,170 residents have been given the first dose of the vaccine, 57.2% of the total population. Out of those, 3,140,370 have also been administered a second dose (40.1% of the total population). 

3,491,072 residents are considered to be fully immunized (44.5%). Under 65s who have already had the virus are only required to have the first dose, and others have received a single-dose jab. Therefore, the % of two doses administered and % fully immunized do not match.

Number of people diagnosed per day 

Hospitalized patients and ICU patients from July 29

Number of confirmed and suspected Covid-19 deaths per day (at hospitals until May 19, also other health centers from May 20, also elsewhere since August 5)

Outbreak risk (over 100 is high) and transmission rate (over 1 concerns authorities)

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Number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants in last 14 days

Percentage of population vaccinated 

Number of people given first and second dose

New vaccinations per day (both 1st & 2nd dose)

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Covid-19 vaccination progress in top priority groups

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