Health workers in Madrid have done their best, some walking for hours, to relieve their exhausted colleagues as Spain grapples with the double whammy of a deadly storm and the coronavirus pandemic.
Storm Filomena hit Spain on Friday, covering much of the country in snow and paralyzing Madrid as the city saw the heaviest snowfall in 50 years. Across the country, the storm claimed at least four lives, affected about 20,000 km of roads and left thousands of people trapped in their cars for up to 12 hours without food or water.
In Madrid hospitals, already stretched by a burden of coronavirus cases that it is among the highest in the country, the weary staff hastened to cope. Health workers doubled and they tripled their shifts to cover colleagues who couldn’t get in, while one hospital turned its gym into a makeshift dormitory for workers who couldn’t get home.
With roads blocked for cars and commuter trains canceled, nursing assistant Raúl Alcojor walked 14 km to get to his shift at a hospital on the outskirts of the city. “Morally, I couldn’t stay home,” he said, citing colleagues who had been working for more than 24 hours.
The trip took him two hours and 28 minutes, complicated by the large number of fallen trees and the snow that at times reached 40 cm deep. “I said to myself, ‘do it’”, Alcojor he told Cadena Ser station. “If I get there, I’ll be there. If I don’t make it, I’ll turn around. “
Others had the same idea. A nurse shared his story while making the 20 km journey to his hospital on foot while a video posted on social media It showed two nurses walking 22 km to reach the 12 de Octubre hospital in Madrid.
Healthcare workers in Spain have fought tirelessly for months against a coronavirus epidemic that is among the worst in Europe, with tens of thousands of them infected along the way. Across Spain, the virus has killed more than 50,000 people, while the cumulative number of confirmed cases recently surpassed the 2 million mark.
On Sunday, the central government was working to organize convoys escorted by the police to bring the weekly shipment of the Covid-19 vaccine as well as food supplies to isolated areas. The military had also been hired to help with medical care, transporting 66 dialysis patients to various hospitals.
Officials warned that the worst could be to come. “When the storm subsides, we will face an intense cold front, which will bring very low temperatures that will make us have to deal with the ice,” José Luis Ábalos, Spain’s Minister of Transport, told reporters. “We will be getting into a situation that may be more dangerous than the one we are in now.”
The storm was blamed for the deaths of four people across the country; a man and a woman whose car was dragged by an overflowing river near the town of Fuengirola, a 54-year-old from Madrid who was found buried in the snow and a homeless man who died of hypothermia in the northern city of Zaragoza.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism