Spain Flattens the Curve as Country Records Smallest Increase in Cases Since Start of Outbreak, Daily Death Toll Falls

The spread of the novel coronavirus in Spain has shown signs of slowing over the past week. The number of new infections is on a decline, while its daily death toll has also fell, Spain's health ministry confirmed.

The ministry reported 7,472 new infections on Friday morning, which was a 6.8 percent increase in cases, the smallest jump reported since the outbreak began. The figure followed Thursday's record low increase of 7.9 percent, according to Spain's Ministry of Health.

More than 30,500 people in Spain have recovered from infection to date, but it has the second highest number of confirmed cases in the world (117,700 cases). It also has the world's second highest death toll (10,935 fatalities), according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Spain's death count increased by 932 in 24 hours, falling from Thursday when the country reported 950 new deaths, according to Reuters.

The number of infections increased by eight percent this past Monday, a significant drop from a 20 percent increase reported last Wednesday.

The daily death toll was also reported to have dropped earlier this week, from 838 new deaths on Sunday to 812 new fatalities on Monday.

"We are observing a change in the trend of the average increase in daily cases," Maria José Sierra, a spokesperson for Spain's Coordination Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies, said at a press conference on Monday.

"Since the day social distancing measures were rolled out across Spain, between 15 and 25 March, the average increase of infections was 20 percent. And from that day onwards (25 March) the average increase is 12 percent.

Healthcare workers dealing with the new coronavirus crisis wave in return as they are cheered on by people outside the Fundacion Jimenez Diaz hospital in Madrid on March 25, 2020.
Healthcare workers waving as they are cheered on by people outside the Fundacion Jimenez Diaz hospital in Madrid on March 25, 2020. Getty Images

"We have to be very cautious with this data...but this [the decline in new cases] is what we expected after the implementation of these important social distancing measures," Sierra said on Monday.

Despite an 11 percent increase in confirmed infections on Tuesday, including a new record daily death toll of 849 on the same day, the outbreak is said to be continuing on a downward slope.

"It's true that today [Tuesday] we have a slight increase in the number of cases," Sierra said. But the downward trend "is continuing."

On Monday, the government imposed stricter lockdown measures by placing a halt on all non-essential economic activity, the Associated Press reported. Spain's population of nearly 47 million have been in lockdown for nearly three weeks. The Community of Madrid, home to the Spanish capital of Madrid, is the region worst-hit by the outbreak, with nearly 34,200 confirmed cases. The Catalonia region, where Barcelona (Spain's second most populous city) is found, has seen over 23,400 infections.

At least a third of the hospitals in the country were said to be at breakpoint, with a string of medical staff falling ill. Nearly 13,000 healthcare workers are reported to be infected as of Monday.

"Reducing the pressure on the ICUs [intensive care unit] will be important for considering de-escalation measures," Sierra said. "From the time one becomes infected, if that person ends up in intensive care, it may take two or three weeks for them to recover. This pressure in the next few weeks will be large."

The COVID-19 virus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China, has spread to more than a million people across 181 countries and regions, including the U.S., the epicenter of the outbreak, with more than 245,600 cases to date.

Over 219,000 people have recovered from infection, while more than 55,000 people have died, including nearly 90 percent of China's confirmed infected population of nearly 82,500. The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of COVID-19 across the globe.

statista, coronavirus, covid19
A map showing COVID-19 cases around the world. Statista

Data on COVID-19 cases is from Johns Hopkins University unless otherwise stated.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.