The first case of coronavirus in Spain It was not that of a German on vacation in La Gomera, as most Spaniards remember. Many days before that January 31, the virus had already silently crossed national borders. The new data published by the Ministry of Health reflects this. On January 1, there were at least seven people in Spain with coronavirus, five of them admitted to hospitals in different communities: Madrid, Andalusia, Catalonia, Valencian Community and Galicia. And during those first weeks of the year they were not the only ones.
This is attested by the revised historical series that this Thursday published for the first time at full the Ministry of Health, after the last change of criteria in which not only the cases with a diagnostic test were added to the balance, but also those met a clinical criterion very high to be Covid in the first weeks of the pandemic. According to these new data, in the first two weeks of January, there were 110 people hospitalized with Covid, in addition to 3 other infected. By the end of the month, there were 223 hospitalized with Covid and another 9 cases detected. There were no deaths.
Experts consulted by ABC such as Sergi Trias-Llimós, who led the team of scientists who criticized the chaos of the data in “The Lancet”, ask to take this new historical series with caution. Shocking data remains. On January 2, for example, there are 47 hospitalized in Catalonia with coronavirus, and just two a day later.
Even so, it is the second time that the data places the first cases of coronavirus in Spain on January 1. Since the month of June, the National Epidemiological Surveillance Network (reindeer) of the Carlos III Institute also reflects this and, where appropriate, there are three cases as of January 1, and up to 70 positives for that month.
Change of speech
The latest data have caused a change of discourse in the director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simon. Asked on June 11 about Renave’s balance, he asked “Be careful with interpretations” and pointed out that it was too early to tell if it was a “bug” and that they were trying to verify the data. In fact, he pointed out that «regarding the data from January 1, the truth is that some cases from 2019 also appear in the database, indeed, There is also a case of 11 of 11 of 1111».
Five months later, Simón no longer points out that the data are wrong, although now he plays them down saying that “They are not new”. “There were some cases that had symptoms in January, but were not diagnosed until much later,” he said a few days ago. He then detailed that the cases incorporated into the historical series correspond to people who had symptoms compatible with coronavirus, but were not diagnosed “Because there was no evidence on January 1 anywhere in the world”. “Once we had the diagnostic kits, the doctors who had treated them, with a rare and atypical pneumonia, diagnosed them a posteriori,” he said. Other cases correspond to people who could have been admitted earlier, but were diagnosed later, when tests were available.
Arrival in Spain
“This changes what we officially knew, but I think it squares with what was to be expected. No travel or border restrictions were imposed until much later, and infections are therefore to be expected in January. Data from several studies -including our publication in BMJ Open- already suggested the presence of community transmission in Catalonia at the beginning of February “, he values Daniel Prieto Alhambra, a researcher at the University of Oxford, whose study focused on the unusual increase in flu diagnoses at this time. The pharmacoepidemiologist sees it as “impossible” to know the exact date on which the virus could reach Spain, although it does give him a “certain margin of confidence” that it shizo at the end of December or January.
Too Joan Caylà, a member of the Spanish Epidemiology Society, recalls how many countries continue to investigate the moment when the coronavirus jumped from animals to humans and began to circulate. The head of the Epidemiology Service of the Barcelona Public Health Agency refers to a study published this week by the Milan Tumor Institute and the University of Siena (Italy), which ensures that Sars-CoV-2 circulated in Italy in September 2019, almost six months before the first infections in Codogno were detected in February. “It is possible that many Covid cases passed as flu” at that time, says Caylà.
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