Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Barcelona Coronavirus February 2020 - Daily Updates and Advice for Visiting Groups

Saturday 29 February 2020

Two more coronavirus infections have been reported in Catalonia this morning: a woman from Girona who travelled to Italy and a man from Sant Cugat, who was in contact with another of the cases already confirmed. Reports suggest two of the 6 infected in Catalonia are doctors. Apparently neither of them have been infected through their medical assistance work.

Friday 28 February 2020

A fourth case of coronavirus in Catalonia has been confirmed late today. This is a 58-year-old woman from Sant Cugat del Vallès, who is hospitalised in a mild state at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona. The woman had been in contact with a positive case in Germany. She joins three other patients with mild symptoms of coronavirus isolated at the hospital and 'evolving favourably.'
Researchers at a specialised hospital in Milan have managed to isolate the Italian version of the new coronavirus. "The epidemic is not new in the country and the virus has been circulating inadvertently for several weeks, before the first confirmed cases of the disease," said Professor Massimo Galli, a leader of the research team.

Thursday 27 February 2020

A third case has been reported in Barcelona today. This is a 22-year-old woman from Tenerife who visited the Italian city of Milan, between February 19 and 25, and then travelled to Barcelona. Once in the Barcelona, she went to the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, where she is isolated in a mild state. Her close contacts are currently being studied.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Our risk assessment for infection of coronavirus in Barcelona is currently 'low', with caution advised in crowded areas, e.g. public transport, markets. Students should bring hand sanitiser (plenty of regular hand cleaning and avoiding touching the face recommended) and face masks (pro-active caution) in case the alert level rises. Official advice is that the risk varies according to the identified cases and that in the points where there are no positive cases the risk is low or very low.

So far there has been no contagion in Barcelona so protocols 'in phase 1, the containment phase' are being maintained. These focus only on the early detection of the possible infected. Everything is prepared in case the alert level is increased if an outbreak arises. In that case 'similar measures would be taken' to those implemented by other countries, such as Italy. There are two cases in Barcelona at the moment, both infected Italians returning from recent trips to Northern Italy. The first patient went to the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona on Monday, where she is currently in isolation. Clinically, she is well and has symptoms such as the flu. Her close contact group of 25 are in home isolation. The second case reported this morning (Wednesday) is a 22 year old man, with 8 close contacts under home quarantine.

The authorities here are avoiding alarmism, and news media tend to be very supportive in this respect. The College of Pharmacists of Barcelona have announced this morning that healthy people who do not provide care for coronavirus patients do not need to wear masks.

If any individuals develop coronavirus symptoms (fever, dry cough) while in Spain, the instructions are to immediately self-isolate, dial 061 and await a visit to their hotel room by medical personnel for testing.

We will update this page as further information is received.



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UK FCO Advice Thursday, September 16th, 2021: FCO advises against all non-essential travel to Spain


Foot Notes


1 Chinese and American researchers have used the infection data from the first few weeks to model the temporal and spatial evolution of the coronavirus first in Wuhan, the start of the pandemic, and later in 375 other Chinese cities. To see how the virus could progress, they overlapped this information with the movement patterns of hundreds of millions of Chinese recorded by the telecommunications company Tencent in Chunyun 2018. This period of the Chinese lunar calendar begins a few days before the Chinese New Year. and it lasts for several weeks afterwards. This year, the New Year fell precisely on January 23. Thus they were able to estimate how the coronavirus moved. The work, published in the Science journal, has found that until Wuhan's forced isolation, 86% of all infections were not being detected. That is, only 14% of the infected were under control. The rest, whether asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, continued to lead their normal lives. Thus, for many days there were two very different transmission rates. That January 23, there were only 801 documented cases throughout China, while the total number of new COVID-19 infections during 10-23 January in Wuhan city is estimated at 13,118 (documented and undocumented combined).
After Wuhan's closure measures, later extended to much of China, the dynamics of the epidemic changed in the city of origin. Between January 24 and February 8, the study authors estimate that the percentage of invisible infected people drops to 35%. They also come to light faster. For the first time, the basic reproduction number (R0) of the epidemic, understood as new infections for each infected person while sick, fell to 0.99. It was the first step in controlling the epidemic, although only in Wuhan.
Source: Science Magazine
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/03/13/science.abb3221
2 The National Centre for Epidemiology estimate that the number of those affected in the 2017-2018 influenza season was 752,000 people, with nearly 15,000 related deaths. Hospitalisation was necessary in 52,000 of the cases, 14,000 of them had serious complications and 3,000 required admission to the ICU.
Source: Epidemiology and Public Health Networking Biomedical Research Centre (CIBER)
https://www.ciberisciii.es/noticias/estiman-en-800000-personas-los-afectados-por-la-gripe-del-pasado-ano
3 According to the National Centre for Epidemiology, some 6,300 people died in Spain due to influenza last season, 2018-2019. The Influenza Surveillance System estimated that 490,000 people affected by mild cases of this pathology attended the Primary Care centres, in addition to some 35,300 confirmed hospitalised patients, of which 2,500 entered the ICU. Among the deaths registered in the country, 83% were older than 64 years and 13% belonged to the group of 45-64 years.
Source: DiarodeAvisos https://diariodeavisos.elespanol.com/2019/10/6-300-personas-fallecieron-por-la-gripe-la-pasada-temporada/
4 The first of the deaths from coronavirus recorded in Spain occurred on February 13, although the patient, a 69-year-old man, had travelled to Nepal, making it difficult to track the infection. The case was discovered by an autopsy.
5 Since 2010, both the governments of Spain and those of its different autonomies (health care is a transferred competence) have approved a series of health care cuts that weakened the system. In 2020, Spain budgeted 5.9% of its GDP for public health spending. This percentage was 6.77% in 2009. Catalonia is one of the Spanish autonomous regions that has cut the most in recent years, dedicating just 3.9% of its GDP to public health this year. The European average is 7.5%
Source: El Periodico: https://www.elperiodico.com/es/sanidad/20200318/recortes-7895906
A December 2019 FACUA report reveals that Catalonia is the Spanish region with the longest wait for a Public Health family doctor appointment. 74% of respondents expect a wait of at least one week.
Source: El Periodico: https://www.elperiodico.com/es/sociedad/20191215/catalunya-comunidad-mayor-tiempo-espera-medico-cabecera-7772135