“Many Spaniards are very critical and consider that the government woke up too late”

In Barcelona.

Correspondent of World in Madrid, Sandrine Morel believes, in a chat with Internet users, that “The shortages of equipment plaguing the Spanish health system are very worrying”.

Spain on Tuesday (March 24th) recorded a new 24-hour coronavirus death record with 514 additional deaths in 24 hours, bringing the total to 2,696. The total number of confirmed cases has increased by 20% and is approaching 40,000 as the authorities are increasing the number of tests.

Pascal: What is the profile of people who died in Spain?

In Spain, deaths concern particularly elderly people, even more than in other countries: more than 65% are over 80 (compared with around 50% in Italy), 87% are over 70, 95% are over 60 years old.

Ben: Some figures show that the situation is worse than that of Italy at the same epidemic stage. Where are the main sources of contamination in Spain?

Indeed, the spread curve is even steeper, however, containment measures having been taken at an earlier stage of the epidemic, Spain hopes to flatten the curve in the coming days. The main centers are Madrid, the Basque Country, Navarre and Catalonia.

Finistère: What is the situation in the different provinces, but also in the Balearic and Canary Islands?

The situation is very heterogeneous according to the regions, but none is spared. In the Canary Islands, 557 cases have been confirmed and 16 deaths recorded, and in the Balearic Islands, we are at 478 cases and 10 deaths.

Toulousain: What is the quality of the Spanish health system?

The Spanish health system is good. After the 2008 crisis, he obviously suffered from austerity policies. However, it remains solid and can count on a large network of public and private hospitals, made available to the regional administration since the state of alert.

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The problem is no less serious. The shortages of equipment are very worrying, doctors make themselves gowns in trash bags, try to sterilize single-use surgical masks to reuse them, and there are serious shortages in the number of artificial respirators…

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El Murcielago: It seems that the Spanish were very carefree with the first cases there. How do you see the management of the coalition government there?

The health system suffered from the 2008 crisis but has recovered somewhat in recent years. The lightness during the start of the epidemic is indeed more surprising, and Valencia took a long time to realize that the Fallas (popular festivals of mid-March) should be eliminated. After initially misjudging the danger, which notably resulted in the major demonstrations of March 8 not being suppressed, the government is now taking the crisis very seriously.

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Romulo: Is the Spanish government overwhelmed by the circumstances?

The Spanish government has mobilized exceptional resources to deal with the pandemic, with the state of alert on March 14, containment measures, mobilization of the army, recentralisation of powers in order to better manage the crisis, the construction of a large field hospital near Madrid…

However, he is struggling to resolve the issue of protective equipment essential for doctors and nurses, and this is very serious. Nearly 4,000 caregivers have been infected: this is huge. This corresponds to more than 12% of confirmed cases and reflects serious shortcomings in the management of the health crisis from the start. Healthcare workers should have been better protected.


Unequestion: What do the Spanish think about the management of the crisis by their government?

Many Spaniards are very critical and believe that the government woke up too late, was too confident. The major demonstrations of March 8 are repeated in these criticisms because the government not only did not cancel them but called for their participation, as did Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo. Almost 120,000 people were on the street that day in Madrid for Women’s Rights Day. Ms. Calvo is currently hospitalized for a respiratory infection and we are awaiting the results of the tests…

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On that day, a far-right rally of 9,000 people and tens of thousands of people in the stadiums was also held, while the rapid advance of the epidemic was clear. It sort of discredited the government, although it is making a lot of strong decisions right now. Several regions governed by the Popular Party accuse the socialist government of requisitioning their equipment …

This stirs up political disputes between right and left and a certain division of society at a time when unity is particularly sought after. Add to this the very worrying shortages of sanitary equipment. Many critics also claim the paralysis of the whole non-core economy.

Diego: Are we talking about an extension of the duration of confinement in Spain? Is it the same duration for each autonomous region?

It is the same duration for all, and today in the Council of Ministers it will be decided to extend the confinement until April 11, fifteen days more.

Hispanophile dismayed: How do you explain the reaction time of the Spanish government at the beginning of March, and in particular the absence of national measures when the number of cases exceeded one hundred? Have the autonomies tried to act faster than the state?

The government claims to have followed the experts’ recommendations from the start. A committee has been monitoring the progress of the pandemic since the end of January, but until the avalanche of cases in Madrid hospitals there was no strong reaction. The government says that the epidemic was not yet called a pandemic.

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Only the Basque Country, La Rioja and Madrid have taken measures before the Spanish government by ordering the closure of classes. Most dragged their feet to do the same three days later, under pressure from the government.

Others asked, a little later, for the confinement of Madrid or their own: this is the case of Catalonia and Murcia, for example. Many are now demanding the cessation of all non-core economic activities … Political tensions are high right now.

In a cemetery in Madrid.
In a cemetery in Madrid. BALDESCA SAMPER / AFP

Rey: How was the intervention of the king received? And how were the revelations about the “hidden fortune” of his father, Juan Carlos, received in this context?

Some appreciated his soothing message and his demand for unity in times of crisis, especially those who criticize the government and prefer to cling to this figure of head of state rather than that of the Prime Minister. Many others organized “casserolades” – casserole concerts – while he spoke to express their anger at this financial scandal that taints the monarchy and their rejection of the king’s figure.

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At 9 p.m., all over Spain, we heard a lot of pan noises, which contrasted with the applause that every night at 8 p.m. the Spaniards dedicated to the nursing staff.

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