Fernando went to the Valencian hospital of Arnau de Vilanova when he returned from a trip to Nepal in early February. According to the first doctors who treated him, he had the typical symptoms of the flu: cough, fever, and muscle aches. They sent him home but, as he was not improving, he returned to the center three days later, on February 12. The doctors were then surprised by the “extreme gravity” in which he was after taking an X-ray. I already presented acute respiratory distress and septic ‘shock’. They admitted him to the ICU, but in less than 24 hours he died from a multi-organ failure. He was 69 years old, the father of three children and became, a year ago today, the first fatality of the coronavirus in Spain. Also in the first outside the Asian continent.
However, his case was not quantified until two weeks later. At that time, patients with respiratory conditions of unknown origin who had not been in any of the ‘red’ areas they did not follow coronavirus protocols, as they were not considered risk patients. For this reason, at first, the Valencian Government considered it a death from severe pneumonia, but a subsequent autopsy determined that the cause behind his death was covid, still that strange virus that was ravaging China and began to be cruel to Italy, Korea of the South and Iran.
Fernando’s case caused the protocol to be modified: the Ministry of Health changed the case definition and then asked the autonomous communities to carry out coronavirus tests on all patients with pneumonia admitted to hospitals who had tested negative for other viruses, such as from the common flu. He also requested that they investigate deaths from pneumonia of unknown origin.
A year after that first case, the death toll from coronavirus amounts to 64,747. From February 13 to March 3, Spain did not register deaths from coronavirus again. Since then, Only on July 5 the data of deaths from Covid-19 have returned to show a zero.
Darío Ojeda Maria Zuil Marta Ley Carlos Munoz Luis Rodriguez Laura Martin
The excess mortality registered from the day Fernando died and up to the fourth week of this year, taking into account all the causes of death, yields a figure already close to 86,000 fatalities, higher than expected compared to the average of the previous five years. The information is provided by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), which as a result of the pandemic situation began to publish the number of total weekly deaths
The Carlos III Institute also made public the data from its mortality monitoring tool (MoMo), which reflects an excess of mortality of something more than 76,000 people. There has only been one exception: from the end of May to the end of June, coinciding with the de-escalation, Spain did not register more deaths than had been seen in the previous five years.
Although these figures take into account not only those who died from coronavirus, at the end of the year the INE announced that most of the excess mortality registered during the first wave corresponded to victims with coronavirus, although many of them do not appear in the figures offered by the Ministry of Health because they were not performed a diagnostic test to confirm the disease.
Almost a year later, the virus gives no truce. January 2021 is already the third month with the most deaths, only behind March and April. Then there were days with more than 900 deaths. During the first month of this year, the maximum figure reached was 487 in one day, although the series of deaths, which the ISCIII updates every day, accumulates several days of delay in notifications, so the number could be higher.
It is usual that both January and December are months with the highest number of fatalities, but even so this year has started as the deadliest since 2000. The number of deaths from day 4 to day 31 (dates that comprise the first four epidemiological weeks) has been 47,000, 17.4% more than the average of the previous five years. The number of official deaths in the country in those days has been 8,666, data even above the excess mortality reported by the INE, of 6,966, although both numbers are provisional.
The provinces that have registered the worst data at the start of this year, in the middle of the third wave of the virus, have been the three of the Valencian Community: Alicante, Valencia and Castellón. At the end of the month, the region had 74% hospital occupancy in the ward and 79% in ICUs, according to information compiled by El Confindencial. They are followed by Cádiz and Badajoz, where about 45% more people have died than usual in the first four weeks of the year.
In 16 provinces, however, the pandemic has not caused more deaths this month than have been registered in other years, according to provisional data from the INE. Cantabria It stands out as the region where excess mortality is now lower in relation to previous years.
Fernando’s case was initially treated as a “isolated case”. It was even speculated that a tick had been the culprit of the infection. It was his trip to Nepal that set off the health alarms and made one think that perhaps his sudden death had something to do with the virus about which little was known at the time.
Even so, it was never clear how the trace of his contagion was: if it happened in the Asian country or in any of the stops of the trip. It mattered little, because by then the contagion curve was beginning to become uncontrollable and the virus would claim, from that moment, many more names.