One in every thousand Asturians has died from the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic after a tragic month of November in which they have been registered 551 deaths, more than half of the total, data that have made us forget the Asturian “miracle” of the spring and summer months in which the Principality became the only region free from Covid-19.
To the long thousand victims that accumulates a community of little more than a million inhabitants It was arrived after having contained a first wave in which, according to the seroprevalence study carried out by the Ministry of Health, only 1.9 percent of Asturians had had contact with the virus, well below 5.2 percent. percent registered nationally.
This scarce presence of the virus and the strict confinement derived from the first state of alarm reinforced a solid health system, which annually takes the main portion of the autonomous budget of the oldest territory in Spain, to achieve an unattainable goal for the rest of the country: 25 consecutive days without registering new cases.
A Covid-free paradise for the summer
These data made the Principality an attractive destination for tourism in a summer conditioned by the pandemic in which, without reaching the figures of previous years anywhere in Spain, Asturias came to lead the hotel occupancy figures.
And that large influx of visitors was not without controversy either. The Asturian president, Adrián Barbón, demanded that those who travel to Asturias, specifically those from Madrid, comply with the regulations in force in the Principality where the mask, unlike in other autonomous communities, was already mandatory.
Barbón was accused of “madrileñophobia”, a term always rejected by the head of the regional Executive but which served to delve into the controversy already opened with his counterpart from the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, when the Principality asked that all communities comply with the de-escalation phases foreseen by the central Executive.
A second devastating hello
Although epidemiologists working for the Principality place July 6 – when the first case was detected after 25 days – the start date of the second wave, its most dramatic effects were not felt until two months later when the arrival of the Autumn began to sound alarms in the face of an uncontrolled spread of the virus.
The numbers of infections began to rise exponentially in October following a pattern more similar to the northern European countries than to the rest of the Spanish communities. The alarms went off and on October 14 the regional government resumed the restrictions, limited to eliminating consumption at the bar of bars and making new recommendations to the population.
“They did not work”, admits the general director of Public Health, Rafael Cofiño, about measures adopted with an incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants in the previous fourteen days of 186 cases and that Barbón justified because he was not willing to wait to make decisions to reach 250 an indicator that ended up reaching 649 in the worst days of November.
A new confinement rejected by Health
The real risk of collapse in the hospital network -which came to have one in every thousand Asturians admitted by Covid- forced to re-enable the field hospital launched in the first wave at the Gijón fairgrounds and which closed without its use was necessary and to decree on October 23 the perimeter closure of the three main cities of the region.
Three days later, the closure was extended to the entire autonomous community and the Principality asked the Government to apply in Asturias a home confinement like the one in March under the new state of alarm, a request that was rejected and generated the main discrepancy throughout of the pandemic between two executives of the same political sign and with notable closeness.
That refusal led to a further tightening of restrictions. Since November 4, the hotel business has been closed and the small business could not return to work until three weeks later. Very harsh measures for some economic sectors that have already been punished and whose effect was slow to be noticed in the evolution of the pandemic.
The contagion curve goes down
Although the second half of November began to reflect a decrease in infections, its effect on hospitalizations and deaths is still prolonged and the regional government continues to insist that a “sharp” de-escalation would pose a risk in the face of a third wave and that it will maintain more restrictive measures at Christmas than those proposed for the whole country.
The accumulation of negative data in the midst of harsh restrictions was not immune to a political opposition that has already hhe had taken with suspicion the figures of the Asturian “miracle” of the first wave and that he took advantage of the second to harshly criticize a “populist”, “failed” and “improvised” management after dedicating the first months of the pandemic “to walk around television sets.”
And the Madrid president did not want to miss that opportunity either and took advantage of the progressive improvement of the data in her community during the second wave to convey to Barbón all her “encouragement and support” to Asturians to face the worst moments of the health crisis.