Spain announced a € 1 billion aid package for its health system to deal with the coronavirus, and another € 2.8 billion for regional authorities to help with pressure on public services.
The country's authorities expect an increase in the number of cases this weekend and that COVID-19 infections will peak in the next three weeks.
"Our work shifts are seven hours during the day and ten hours at night," said Jesus Garcia Ramos, of the SATSE nursing union. “This workload, together with the use of protective equipment, such as goggles and high-efficiency masks, is exhausting. It became unbearable for health professionals. If they don't get the coronavirus, they will end up on sick leave due to exhaustion. "
The coronavirus hotline received more than 20,000 calls, but many people simply ended up in emergency rooms, interrupting their normal workflow.
"If the emergency departments are overwhelmed, those who really need attention don't understand," said Esther Ramos, head of intestinal transplant rehabilitation at La Paz hospital in Madrid. ”It doesn't even have to be a coronavirus-related infection. If a patient comes to the emergency room with a stroke and there are three times as many people – it is difficult to establish a system to effectively prioritize patients. "
Madrid has promised to strengthen health services, ensure an adequate number of beds and provide protective equipment, such as masks and gloves. But doctors are asking the public not to visit the hospital, unless it is absolutely necessary.
Health officials hope that closing schools, working from home and banning public meetings will be sufficient to stem the spread of the virus. For now, they have ruled out the Madrid blockade, but the government's response in the next two weeks is vital for the virus to be contained.