70 extra health professionals needed to tackle Covid-19 outbreak in Segrià

Lleida mayor calls for more police powers to force people with symptoms to self-isolate

Lleida health and government officials Divina Farreny, Ramon Farré and Ramon Sentís, July 8, 2020 (by Laura Cortés)
Lleida health and government officials Divina Farreny, Ramon Farré and Ramon Sentís, July 8, 2020 (by Laura Cortés) / ACN

ACN | Lleida

July 8, 2020 06:07 PM

The Catalan health authorities estimate that an extra 20 doctors and 50 nurses will be needed if cases of coronavirus continue to increase in the western Catalan county of Segrià.

"The outbreak has come prematurely and has caught us off guard," admitted Ramon Sentís, the health service manager in the regional capital of Lleida.

He said that while the local health system was not yet overrun, he hopes that some patients will begin to be transferred to other Catalan cities within the next 24 hours.

There are currently 69 Covid-19 patients in Lleida's two public hospitals and three private clinics, with nine of those in intensive care.

A second coronavirus ward that was opened in the city's Arnau de Vilanova hospital on Sunday is now 50% full. Sentís says there is room to open a third ward but they are lacking the personnel to staff it, especially more experts in critical care.

'Health Hotel'

The Hotel Nastasi will again be used as a 'Health Hotel', as it was in April and May, to provide extra beds for the hospital of Santa Maria i Arnau. The aim, Sentís explained, is for patients to be able to finish their hospital stay there, before being discharged.

People refusing to self-isolate

Meanwhile, the mayor of Lleida, Miquel Pueyo, has claimed that there are cases where people with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 have refused to self-isolate and confine themselves to their place of residence.

Pueyo called on the interior and health departments to implement a "legal mechanism" to oblige people to quarantine, lamenting the fact that within the current legal framework the Catalan and local police are essentially powerless in such situations.

The mayor did point out that social workers and Red Cross volunteers are helping to mediate in many cases and that in 90% of occasions where police had to intervene "people end up understanding."

There are currently 129 people in Lleida with the virus or symptoms who cannot quarantine at home, many of whom normally sleep rough.

No plans for stricter lockdown

The Catalan government delegate in Lleida, Ramon Farré, said that there were no plans to shut any of the 11 fruit companies where outbreaks of coronavirus have been detected.

He also denied that there were plans to enact a stricter lockdown which would see people confined to their homes from Friday following the conclusion of university entrance exams.