The hospitals of Catalonia are preparing for an upcoming covid-19 peak at the end of Christmas. Although the incidence of influenza and SARS-CoV-2 has dropped in the last week in Catalonia, according to the Conselleria de Salut, the burden of the first virus in the emergencies hospital emergencies continues to be important. And there also continues to be covid-19, which is expected to start rising soon.
The peak of the latter was already expected for after Christmas, after the flu had passed. Moreover, since is no longer counted on a case-by-case basis (only at-risk individuals are tested), experts fear that the incidence of covid-19 is higher than the figures reflect.
The latest data from Salut, which date from this Tuesday, reflect that the virus that circulates most is that of the influenza (32% of the samples), followed by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV, 12.4%), the rhinovirus (12.4%), the adenovirus (4.5%) and SARS-CoV-2 (3.8%).
All this is reflected in the pressure on hospital EDs. The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Barcelona), for example, is having 17% more visits than last year. “The inflow of patients is very important, we have patients with severe respiratory insufficiencies.” notes Mireia Puig, the director of the Servei de Urgències de Sant Pau.
Also other health centers such as the Hospital del Mar claim to have in their emergency rooms. “a lot of influx of patients”, despite the fact that the worst of the flu is over.
Epidemiologists are concerned about the upcoming arrival of the covid peak, which may saturate the Catalan healthcare system, heavily burdened in recent months by bronchiolitis and influenza. “We are worried, the Catalan health system is already a little bit at the limit because we are coming from a peak of strong respiratory diseases. If covid comes, the hospitals could be saturated, says Salvador Macip, member of the scientific advisory committee of covid-19 de Salut.
This carries a risk that others ‘non-covid’ patients are not properly cared for. Macip calls for the use of face masks on public transport and asks elderly people to reinforce protection, as well as further implement the fourth dose vaccination, which in Spain. is still insufficient.
For its part, Joan Caylà, member of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology (SEE), assumes that the covid-19 will rise in the coming weeks, rather than because of the China wave (“this will not have an immediate effect here,” he specifies), because of the “relaxation” of the population during the Christmas holidays. “There is a perception that the pandemic is over and it’s not.”