While the national figures for the whole of Spain are encouraging, with daily deaths down to single figures, new coronavirus outbreaks in Catalonia are prompting health professionals to raise the alarm. Among them is Magda Campins Marti, the director of the region’s biggest hospital, the Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona.

Speaking to Spanish daily El Pais, she said that an influx of foreign workers to pick seasonal fruit has caused the recent spike that could easily develop into a second wave of infections.

“This was not foreseen. No preventive measure was adopted, either from a health or from a social point of view. And when the infections began to be detected, it was hard to keep tabs on the cases and their contacts because some of them, although they should have been in isolation, got away because they needed to earn money,” Dr Marti told the daily.

The health authorities failed to use a test and trace system from the start of the outbreak, she said.

“I don’t know what it is that they did, but the situation right now has clearly gotten out of hand. They should have done PCR tests from the beginning, and been able to keep cases located,” she said.

She pointed a finger at the lack of social workers mediating with the seasonal work force. Also, the tracking system in Barcelona “is going to prove absolutely insufficient,” she added.

If the present outbreaks are contained, she said, there won’t be a second wave. Ominously, she added, we are seeing that hot weather is not a factor that reduces transmission.

PHOTO: Dr Magda Campins Marti