The situation at Vic Hospital is critical. Its director of care, Rosa Maria Morral, has warned that the centre does not have any more critical beds available: "We had ten beds before the pandemic and now we have almost doubled them: all 19 now have patients and we do not have the capacity to take on more critical patients because we do not have enough staff". The problem is not that there is a lack of material resources such as beds or ventilators, but that they cannot find workers who can attend to this profile of patients.
"We need very specialised personnel," recalls Morral, who also regrets the number of casualties among the employees of covid-19: 70 of the 1,200 workers are infected. "The percentage is low, but the problem is that most of those affected are nurses and critical care staff, who are the ones we need most," lamented the director of care.
Morral also pointed out that they have asked the Servei d'Emergències Mèdiques - which coordinates transfers between hospitals - to be able to refer critical patients to other centres, "but they say there is no space available". Furthermore, due to the lack of space in ICUs, the centre has also had to start closing operating theatres and cancelling interventions.
The director of care, however, has ruled out for now that the sports hall should be reopened as a field hospital, as was done in the first wave. "We have beds available, the problem is the critical ones, because we have already exceeded our capacity and we can't attend to any more". "We need the other hospitals to help us," she insisted.
'A little oxygen' for health centres
This situation of saturation contrasts with the situation that Vic's health centres are currently experiencing. After weeks of enduring most of the pressure of care caused by the virus, now the two centres in the capital of Osona are beginning to breathe, according to their directors. "We have reduced the number of cases: last week we did 870 PCRs, of which 177 were positive. That's 63 less than the previous week", said Marta Serrarols, director of the Vic Sud centre, who acknowledged that this slight decrease gives them "a little bit of oxygen".
However, both Serrarols and the director of the Vic Nord centre, Berta Bonay, have detected an increase in pathologies related to mental health. "We still do not have figures, but we have noticed that the economic impact, confinement and loss of social relationships are leading to sadness, loneliness and anxiety among many patients," they said.
Most outbreaks occur in families
Osona is the Catalan territory with the most infections. Currently, it is the region with the highest cumulative incidence: 1,231, a figure that should be below 100. In addition, it also records a very high EPG (1,176, and it is from 100 when the alarms go off), a positivity of PCR of 15% -when it should be lower than 5%- and a reproduction rate of 0.98. Of course, these are slightly lower figures than those recorded in recent weeks.
"It is a very high number of infections, but it seems to be going down," said the regional deputy director of the Public Health Agency in Central Catalonia, Imma Cervós, who is committed to continuing with social awareness to ensure that measures are taken to prevent infection. According to data provided by the Health Department, the age group that accumulates more positives is the one that goes from the adolescence to late middle age. "Most are asymptomatic and are spreading the virus because they are well," Cervós said.
For the deputy director of the Public Health Agency, there are several factors that would explain why Osona has been registering an exponential growth of cases for three months, with a higher trend than the rest of Catalonia. "We see that it affects a specific age group and especially in certain neighbourhoods of Vic that have lower socio-economic indicators," said Cervós, who added that the virus is having a greater impact on certain social strata. "The messages have not yet arrived, or there is a part of the population that does not perceive that the virus can affect them".
However, neither Cervós nor the directors of the two health centres believe that the increase in the number of people affected has anything to do with the meat industry, which is very important in Vic and the rest of the region. "Most of the infections occur in the family: in Vic we have 71 family outbreaks and 24 work outbreaks, and of these, 8 were in meat plants. Therefore, the outbreaks in these companies do not represent even a third of the infections", Cervós pointed out, who also admitted that it would be difficult to lower the figures: "Our numbers were very high and it will not be easy".