A week ago, emergency rooms and intensive care rooms in Spain and Spain Italy filled with coronavirus patients who cough and cough and are really busy with the breathing machine.
So many died that the Barcelona crematorium had a waiting list of up to two years, forcing some to bury their loved ones while in the grave in hopes of excavating them for cremation later.
But now the two countries that have suffered more viral deaths than anywhere else in Europe are beginning to see their crisis subside, while Britain, where the prime minister is hospitalized in intensive care Monday, seems to be heading in the opposite direction.
Among them, Italy and Spain witnessed nearly 30,000 deaths and 265,000 infections confirmed in the pandemic. They, and other European countries who were locked up a few weeks ago and boosted testing, now see the benefits.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte promised the Italians on Monday that they would soon “reap the fruits of this sacrifice” in the personal freedom created to fight the corona virus.
Conte declined during a press conference to say when the national lockdown, now in the fifth week, will be revoked. The current steps end April 13, but how and when Italy will enter the next phase ‘together’ with the virus will depend on a panel of experts. The country’s business lobby also wants to restart production, which has also been significantly blocked by lockdowns.
The British outbreak was heading in the opposite direction when the country reported more than 600 deaths on Sunday, outpacing an increase in Italian daily for the second day in a row.
“I think we are just one week away from this surge,” the deputy chief executive of NHS UK Provider, Saffron Cordery, told Sky News.
In Spain, deaths and new infections dropped again on Monday. The health ministry reported 637 new deaths, the lowest toll in 13 days, totaling more than 13,000. The new infections recorded are the lowest in two weeks.
The emergency room in the Madrid region which was hit 6.6 million returned to normal almost a week after scenes of patients sleeping on the floor and in chairs.
Patients awaiting treatment in the ER-Madrid region fell Monday to 390 cases, one-tenth of last week’s arrival, the local government said. The number of people treated for coronavirus in intensive care has been around 1,500 for five consecutive days.
Minister of Transportation, Mobility and Urban Affairs José Luis Ábalos said the figures showed Spain was entering “a new phase of fighting.”
“This new phase does not mean we can reduce our guard. We assess the steps we need to adopt, “said Ábalos.
At the San Carlos Clinic Hospital in Madrid, nearly 15% of the 1,400 strong hospital staff contracted the corona virus, according to the national average,
“Our priority now is to bring health workers back to the workplace,” Dr. Julio Mayol, medical director of the facility.
However, there is concern for a new outbreak because Spanish authorities are beginning to talk about loosening the grip on mandatory confinement, and pressure on hospitalization will still be seen for another week while in the intensive care unit for two weeks, Mayol said.
So far, Italy still has the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus in the world – nearly 16,000 – but the pressure on the northern Italian ICU has subsided so that Lombardy no longer flies patients to other regions.
In the northern city of Bergamo, one of the centers of the spread of the virus in Europe, hospital staff still make the old and difficult changes even though the number of new patients is slightly reduced.
“There has been no reduction in employment,” said Maria Berardelli, nursing coordinator at Pope John XXIII’s hospital. “A smaller number of admissions to the emergency room, but our intensive care unit is still full, so that activity has not been reduced.”
The disease has been compounded by a shocking economic pain because all the world’s biggest economies have been stalled, including in Italy and Spain. In France, which trailed its two neighbors to the south in death and infection, the government closed the country two days after Italy – and also appeared to have subsided slightly.
The US initially refused to take some of the crackdowns seen in other European countries, which banned large events, closed schools and closed their borders to slow the spread of COVID-19 disease.
The government’s first suggestion is that people wash their hands frequently. As the number of cases increased, the response increased including the closure of schools, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops and national orders for everyone except key workers to stay at home.
Now, Austria and the Czech Republic openly discuss ways to ease some crippling restrictions. The Austrian Chancellor said the plan was to leave small shops and park centers reopen next week, with limits on the number of customers inside, and the rest on May 1. The Czech government proposes an end to the ban on travel restrictions abroad on April 14 and the reopening of small shops.
AP reporters Renata Brito in Barcelona, Spain, Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, Colleen Barry in Milan, Italy and Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.
Follow the full AP coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak