Spanish communities such as Madrid and Catalonia count at least 419,000 possible cases of Coronavirus through symptoms but are still not officially diagnosed

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CONFIRMED cases of Coronavirus in all of Spain are already over 190,000. That figure, updated daily, includes all people who have tested positive for a diagnostic test. But there is another fact that helps to get an idea of the size of the pandemic, that of possible cases of Coronavirus. These are people who have not undergone any test, but whose diagnosis matches that of a patient with Covid-19. The 10 communities that collect this data add up to at least 419,000 accumulated possible cases and Madrid and Catalonia hold 73 per cent of them.

The Ministry of Health defines as possible cases patients who have mild acute respiratory infection and who have not undergone any diagnostic test, either a PCR or a rapid antibody test. In order to carry out the tests, priority is given to those who require hospitalisation and essential services personnel, such as health workers. In a situation like the current one, where there is already community transmission of the virus, primary care centres consider cases with mild acute respiratory infection directly as possible cases, without the screening test. People diagnosed as possible cases have to be isolated in their own home for at least two weeks.

The data of possible cases varies faster than that of confirmed cases, since it depends on a diagnosis that may not be in person. This is well exemplified by the figures for the Community of Madrid: the possible active cases were 45,000 on April 7 and in 10 days they have been reduced to 21,164 on Thursday.

Even without having the reliability of a diagnostic test, the number of possible cases is still key in the reaction of the communities to the virus: “This action from Primary Care until now has been fundamental for early detection, adequate care, isolation and home monitoring or referral to another level of care,” explains Rafa Cofiño, general director of Public Health of Asturias. And it will continue to be important “in the new transition phase of the pandemic, when it is necessary to be very strict with early detection and the study of contacts.”

On Friday of each week, communities should send the ministry a weekly summary of possible cases. But the lack of coordination in the collection of data means that not all of them are collecting the information in the same way.

The objective is to get an idea of the circle of contacts of each infected person to understand the extent of the epidemic. They are usually caregivers of people with symptoms, in addition to their close relatives or relatives who have been in the same place as a case while the patient had symptoms at a distance of less than two metres for a time of at least 15 minutes. All contacts also have to perform home isolation for two weeks.

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Damon Mitchell

From the interviewed to the interviewer

As frontman of a rock band Damon used to court the British press, now he lives the quiet life in Spain and seeks to get to the heart of the community, scoring exclusive interviews with ex-pats about their successes and struggles during their new life in the sun.

Originally from Scotland but based on the coast for the last three years, Damon strives to bring the most heartfelt news stories from the spanish costas to the Euro Weekly News.

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