ANALYSIS: What we know about the coronavirus cases in Spain

We know the coronavirus is more dangerous to the elderly and those with certain pre-existing medical conditions, but what else can Spain's stats tell us?

ANALYSIS: What we know about the coronavirus cases in Spain
A woman wearing a face mask and gloves touches a niche during the burial of a man who died of the new coronavirus at the South Municipal cemetery in Madrid. Photo: AFP

Spain’s ministry of health has collated all the available statistics up until Friday March 20th to help produce the most comprehensive profiles of those who have not just contracted the virus but been hospitalized from it, and died from it.

The report studies a cross-section of 18.3 percent of the 28,500 cases that had tested positive by Friday lunchtime and the 1,720 of those who died from the illness, a figure that by Monday morning had risen to 33,080 cases and 2,182 deaths.

It shows just how much more vulnerable the elderly when it comes to complications from covid-19 with over 60 year olds accounting for 68 percent of those who require treatment in Intensive Care Units.

Although most people do not require treatment and have symptoms mild enough to stay at home and recover, the stats show that 2.5 percent of those who have tested positive need to be admitted into hospital and cared for in ICU.

However, the figure that represents the number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus is problematic as Spanish health authorities had to limit the tests they carried out on those with symptoms, and for a time only those who have been seen by medical health professionals and treated at hospital were being tested, so the true number is expected to be far higher.

The chart below shows the growth of the number of COVID-19 cases in Spain day by day with grey representing those who have stayed at home, light green those who are treated at hospital, orange those who are admitted into ICU and red those who have died. The bright green shows the number of those who have recovered. 


When it comes to symptoms, the study revealed that a fever was present in 67 percent of cases, with 66 percent of cases reporting a cough and shortness of breath experienced by 28 percent of confirmed cases.

Other symptoms include shivering (28 percent) and sore throat (24percent).

But isn’t it only serious for those with pre-existing conditions?

One of the oft-repeated statements about the coronavirus is that those who are over certain age or have pre-existing conditions are at greater risk.

The stats by Spain’s health ministry seem to support that, with 42 percent of patients admitted into hospital and testing positive to the coronavirus have what are considered to be pre-exisiting medical conditions.

Some 22 percent have cardiovascular disease, 10 percent have diabetes and 8 percent suffer from a chronic respiratory condition.

However doctors and health chiefs has also insisted it's not just a disease for the elderly and infirm. Young people too are ending up needing intensive care treatment in hospitals.


When it comes to the coronavirus, the older you are the more vulnerable you become.

The latest data shows that across the whole of Spain, only one case of a child under the age of nine is being treated in hospital. There are no cases of anyone between the ages of ten and 19 being hospitalized so far. Although between the 20 to 50 age group some 13 percent of hospitalised cases have been admitted into the ICU.

That figures rises to 18 percent among the 50 to 59 age group.

The data shows that over half of all those hospitalized across Spain are over 70 years old.

But hospitalized figures don’t really give a true picture of the threat to the aged as many reported deaths from the coronavirus have occurred in residential homes for the elderly in those who were never even admitted to hospital.

Last week in Madrid it was reported that 19 residents had died in one elderly care home while on Monday the army was sent it to residential homes across Spain to support the emergency services.

The data revealed the mortality rate according to age.

In those over 80 years old, the mortality rate is the highest at 17.9 percent, a figure that drops to 5.2 percent in those aged between 70 and 79. Among coronavirus cases in the 60 to 69 percent age group, the mortality rate is recorded at 2.1 percent.

This puts the mortality rate in those under 59 at less than 1 percent.

Only five people under the age of 30 have reportedly died in Spain from the coronavirus.


Men are more vulnerable than women

Although men and women are testing positive to coronavirus in similar numbers (51 percent of cases are men and 49 percent women), men are more likely to need medical treatment.

These three charts show the number of men (in blue) and women (in red) who have tested positive to the coronavirus grouped by age. The first shows those who have not needed hospital treatment, the second those who have been admitted into hospital and the third those who have been treated in ICU.

The charts reveal the degree to which men make up a larger number of the serious cases.

However one area where the statistics are weighted is when it comes to health workers who make up 12 percent of all of those who have tested positive to the coronavirus. By Monday, some 3.475 health workers had tested positive across Spain, putting further pressure on a saturated and under staffed health service.

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Spain rules out EU’s advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 

Spain’s Health Ministry said Thursday there will be no mandatory vaccination in the country following the European Commission’s advice to Member States to “think about it” and Germany’s announcement that it will make vaccines compulsory in February.

Spain rules out EU's advice on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination 
A Spanish man being vaccinated poses with a custom-made T-shirt showing Spain's chief epidimiologist Fernando Simón striking a 'Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood' pose over the words "What part of keep a two-metre distance don't you understand?' Photo: José Jordan

Spain’s Health Minister Carolina Darias on Thursday told journalists Covid-19 vaccines will continue to be voluntary in Spain given the “very high awareness of the population” with regard to the benefits of vaccination.

This follows the words of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, urging Member States to “think about mandatory vaccination” as more cases of the Omicron variant are detected across Europe. 

READ ALSO: Is Spain proving facts rather than force can convince the unvaccinated?

“I can understand that countries with low vaccine coverage are contemplating this and that Von der Leyen is considering opening up a debate, but in our country the situation is absolutely different,” Darias said at the press conference following her meeting with Spain’s Interterritorial Health Council.

According to the national health minister,  this was also “the general belief” of regional health leaders of each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities she had just been in discussion with over Christmas Covid measures. 

READ MORE: Spain rules out new restrictions against Omicron variant

Almost 80 percent of Spain’s total population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a figure which is around 10 percent higher if looking at those who are eligible for the vaccine (over 12s). 

It has the highest vaccination rate among Europe’s most populous countries.

Germany announced tough new restrictions on Thursday in a bid to contain its fourth wave of Covid-19 aimed largely at the country’s unvaccinated people, with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking in favour of compulsory vaccinations, which the German parliament is due to vote on soon.

Austria has also already said it will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory next February, Belgium is also considering it and Greece on Tuesday said it will make vaccination obligatory for those over 60.

But for Spain, strict Covid-19 vaccination rules have never been on the table, having said from the start that getting the Covid-19 jabs was voluntary. 

There’s also a huge legal implication to imposing such a rule which Spanish courts are unlikely to look on favourably. 

Stricter Covid restrictions and the country’s two states of alarm, the first resulting in a full national lockdown from March to May 2020, have both been deemed unconstitutional by Spain’s Constitutional Court. 

READ ALSO: Could Spain lock down its unvaccinated or make Covid vaccines compulsory?

The Covid-19 health pass to access indoor public spaces was also until recently consistently rejected by regional high courts for breaching fundamental rights, although judges have changed their stance favouring this Covid certificate over old Covid-19 restrictions that affect the whole population.

MAP: Which regions in Spain now require a Covid health pass for daily affairs?

“In Spain what we have to do is to continue vaccinating as we have done until now” Darias added. 

“Spaniards understand that vaccines are not only a right, they are an obligation because we protect others with them”.

What Spanish health authorities are still considering is whether to vaccinate their 5 to 11 year olds after the go-ahead from the European Medicines Agency, with regions such as Madrid claiming they will start vaccinating their young children in December despite there being no official confirmation from Spain’s Vaccine Committee yet.

READ MORE: Will Spain soon vaccinate its children under 12?

Spain’s infection rate continues to rise day by day, jumping 17 points up to 234 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday. There are now also five confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the country, one through community transmission.

Hospital bed occupancy with Covid patients has also risen slightly nationwide to 3.3 percent, as has ICU Covid occupancy which now stands at 8.4 percent, but the Spanish government insists these figures are “almost three times lower” than during previous waves of the coronavirus pandemic.