Flu epidemic begins to recede, but tensions rise in hospitals | Society

Influenza infections surged in the last two weeks of December and have now peaked. In the first week of this year, the incidence rate dropped slightly from the previous week. But if citizens have learned anything during the pandemic, it’s that rising infections are followed by rising hospitalizations. This is happening now: admissions continue to rise and pressure on hospitals is increasing.

According to data released by the Institute of Health on Thursday, the average incidence of all respiratory infections in Spain has dropped from 966.2 to 935.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a decrease of 3.2%.

The decline is most pronounced among influenza, the most widespread virus this season. Sentinel health centers (a representative sample representing extrapolation of general data) detected 387.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a decrease of 10%. However, the COVID-19 incidence rate increased slightly to 98.8 cases per 100,000 people, an increase of 6%. Hospitalizations due to all respiratory viruses increased by 9.1% to 33.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The distribution and trends of cases vary widely across regions. Despite a slight decrease, Castile-La Mancha remains the community with the highest incidence of respiratory viruses (1,691.3 cases per 100,000 people). Their growing Aragon are now in second place (1,338.3), ahead of their declining Valencian side (1,318.9).

It is important to watch the trends because it depends on whether communities must make wearing masks mandatory in health centers as ordered by the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, or if simple recommendations can be followed. To do this, the health department requires that they have to keep the incidence rate declining for two consecutive weeks.

Andalusia, Asturias, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile and León, Extremadura, Galicia and Madrid are the first weeks of the year with incidence rates Autonomous regions that have declined. If the trend continues next week, they may make masks more flexible at medical centers and hospitals. The Basque Country and Melilla both posted two consecutive weeks of declines, but Carlos III has yet to update its data.

The Basque government has already implemented a mask mandate but announced that it will appeal the Health Ministry order because, according to the complaint, no prior consent was obtained from the Interregional Council of the National Health System and was not presented to the autonomous region before taking this decision. Hearings.

Overcoming health center collapse

Figures released on Thursday generally reflect the situation in health centres, which are no longer experiencing the collapse seen over Christmas. In addition to the decline in cases, two other factors have intervened: On the one hand, they are bringing back furloughed employees, which gives them more resources to deal with the respiratory virus epidemic. On the other hand, Lorenzo Armenteros, spokesman for the Spanish Society of General Practitioners and Family Doctors (SEMG), said that in addition to the use of masks becoming the norm, patients no longer often experience “mediocre” symptoms.

“People are more afraid of coming to these centers and are increasingly receiving telephone consultations about respiratory diseases. Information from the media is more effective than information from institutions.” Amenteros warned, but he assured that this situation is of emergency importance That doesn’t happen because the level of care in an emergency is so stressful.

Jose Manuel Fandiño, board member of the Spanish Society of Emergency Medicine (SEMES), confirmed this statement: “It depends on the community. They all have average historical care demand data, but some, like Navarre, have seen an increase in hospitalizations due to influenza. About 20% (expected to peak in 7 to 20 days). And other countries, like Galicia, are down 10%-15% compared to previous weeks.”

Fandinho explained that there is now an even greater sense of what health workers call “inpatient diversion,” that is, patients who wait in the emergency room to be sent to their destination floors and services. If the issue is not addressed, the emergency circuit “will not be fully operational” and patients will not have “adequate conditions of dignity and privacy.” “It’s not the emergency services that are saturated, it’s the hospitals that are saturated,” he concluded.

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