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Doctors warn Madrid is walking ‘in slow motion’ towards a repeat of its ‘nuclear bomb’ Covid crisis

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doctors warn madrid is walking in slow motion towards a repeat of its nuclear bomb covid crisis

Doctors have warned that Madrid is walking ‘in slow motion’ towards a repeat of its ‘nuclear bomb’ Covid crisis in March.

Spain has recorded an average of more than 10,000 new cases per day over the last week, the worst figures in Europe and the fifth highest infection rate in the world.

Nearly a third of those falling sick are in Madrid which is striking fear into the capital’s medics after it bore the brunt of Europe’s spring outbreak – Spain has the highest per capita death rate on the continent.

On September 4, Madrid recorded 4,852 cases, its highest ever number of infections in a single day, and the city today has an R-rate of 1.08 – any number greater than one means that the contagion is multiplying.

MADRID: A graph of Madrid's daily coronavirus cases showing a sharp rise since the beginning of August, with larger spikes than it experienced in March - although testing has now increased

MADRID: A graph of Madrid's daily coronavirus cases showing a sharp rise since the beginning of August, with larger spikes than it experienced in March - although testing has now increased

MADRID: A graph of Madrid’s daily coronavirus cases showing a sharp rise since the beginning of August, with larger spikes than it experienced in March – although testing has now increased

MADRID: Madrid's R-rate stands at 1.08 - any figure over 1 is considered to be detrimental to public health because it means that the contagion is growing as it spreads

MADRID: Madrid's R-rate stands at 1.08 - any figure over 1 is considered to be detrimental to public health because it means that the contagion is growing as it spreads

MADRID: Madrid’s R-rate stands at 1.08 – any figure over 1 is considered to be detrimental to public health because it means that the contagion is growing as it spreads

SPAIN: The national coronavirus tally has surged in recent weeks, with an average of 10,140 new cases per day over the last week

SPAIN: The national coronavirus tally has surged in recent weeks, with an average of 10,140 new cases per day over the last week

SPAIN: The national coronavirus tally has surged in recent weeks, with an average of 10,140 new cases per day over the last week

SPAIN: The national R-rate today sits just above 1, meaning that the virus is growing

SPAIN: The national R-rate today sits just above 1, meaning that the virus is growing

SPAIN: The national R-rate today sits just above 1, meaning that the virus is growing 

Although, the figures compared to the initial outbreak must be counterbalanced by Spain’s increased testing capacity, the uptick is concerning medics.

‘In a way, it’s like the situation in March but in slow motion,’ said Dr. Carlos Velayos, who works as an intensive care unit physician at the public hospital in suburban Fuenlabrada. 

The hospital is expanding its ICU capacity from 12 to 24 beds by the end of September, as all of them are currently filling up with coronavirus patients. 

EUROPE’S SURGING DAILY CORONAVIRUS CASES

SPAIN: 10,140

FRANCE: 8,684

RUSSIA: 5,559

UNITED KINGDOM: 3,286 

UKRAINE: 2,953

*All figures based on latest seven-day average reported 

Source: Reuters  

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With 1,281 patients in ICUs as of Wednesday, Spain has roughly as many beds devoted to treat grave patients of COVID-19 as France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy together.

And 359 of them are in the Madrid region, which for the past week has accounted for roughly one-third of a national average of 8,200 new infections per day.

Spain’s virus caseload, above 600,000, is one of the world’s highest and more than 30,000 have died in the country for the new virus.

Velayos said that prediction models were telling hospital administrators in Madrid that some ICU wards could reach peak capacity in the second half of September. But little or nothing has been done to avoid returning to extended shifts among many health professionals that are still recovering from the stress of the pandemic’s first wave.

‘In March, it was like a nuclear bomb that brought the health system as a whole to a collapse in a matter of weeks,’ Velayos said. ‘We might not be there yet, but that´s not a reason not to be worried. We have allowed the outbreaks to reach a level of being uncontrollable.’

Medical workers are this time better prepared, with lessons learned on how to treat incoming patients more effectively and they have means to better protect themselves against contagion. But operating rooms in the Madrid region, which has a population of 6.6 million, are already being turned into ICUs and surgeries have been postponed, while hospitals compete to hire professionals for the expanded capacity.

Regional authorities say that the health system still has room to manage the incoming flow of patients, but following warnings by medical personnel like Velayos, officials are now reacting with stricter measures that could include selective lockdowns in parts of the city as early as next week.

The five countries with the highest average number of daily cases recorded in the last week in Europe

The five countries with the highest average number of daily cases recorded in the last week in Europe

The five countries with the highest average number of daily cases recorded in the last week in Europe

Current infection rates in Europe according to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), with Spain and France among the worst-affected countries in the recent rebound

Current infection rates in Europe according to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), with Spain and France among the worst-affected countries in the recent rebound

Current infection rates in Europe according to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), with Spain and France among the worst-affected countries in the recent rebound 

The restrictions, if finally adopted, will center on urban areas where the coronavirus is spreading faster, officials announced Wednesday. That’s suburban towns like Fuenlabrada, but also working-class neighborhoods in southern Madrid where contagion rates have been steadily soaring since August.

They also happen to be areas where less affluent residents and mostly migrant families cram into small apartments and commute on public transportation to manual work in other quarters of the Spanish capital.

COUNTRIES REPORTING MOST NEW CASES/DEATHS EACH DAY

CASES 

INDIA: 93,199

US: 38,897

BRAZIL: 31,599

ARGENTINA: 10,960

SPAIN: 10,140

DEATHS

INDIA: 1,162

US: 854

BRAZIL: 808

MEXICO: 456

ARGENTINA: 207 

*All figures based on latest seven-day average reported

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Ángela Cantos lives in the Vallecas neighborhood, one of the hot spots in the recent wave of outbreaks. She said that if her neighborhood is locked down, ‘then Madrid will be paralyzed.’

‘Who is going to cook and clean in other districts if they close down here?’ she said.

The regional deputy health chief, Dr. Antonio Zapatero, said Wednesday that ‘Madrid wants to flatten the curve before the arrival of autumn and the complications that cold weather could bring,’ adding that the ‘drastic measures’ to be taken will be decided by the weekend.

Zapatero also said that people have relaxed protection measures by holding large gatherings, often forgetting about social distancing or masks. He also announced that police will monitor compliance of mandatory self-isolation since at least 90 people have been found to be skipping quarantines after testing positive for the new virus.

The country brought contagion under control earlier this year with a three-month lockdown, one of the strictest anywhere, but since it relaxed restrictions in mid-June, outbreaks have spread throughout the country.

The Spanish government says the country is now doing more tests and that more than half of the newly infected show no symptoms. But health centers are starting to struggle to cope with the number of virus tests required and responding to patients. In hospitals, 8.5% of the country´s beds are now treating COVID-19 patients, but in Madrid that share jumps to one in five beds.

In terms of ICUs, official data shows that 38% of the region’s beds have coronavirus patients, although some hospitals are already at 90% of their capacity before rolling out emergency plans for new beds, like they did in spring.

‘Madrid is maintaining a steady level of infections, but we have to take into account the impact of the pandemic in primary care, in hospitals, which is totally sustainable at the moment. But we have to make that line of infections decrease,’ said Zapatero, who back in March was tasked with Madrid’s makeshift hospital of 1,500 temporary beds in an exhibition center.

Europe's daily number of cases (shown on this chart) has reached record levels, according to WHO figures, although deaths have so far remained relatively stable

Europe's daily number of cases (shown on this chart) has reached record levels, according to WHO figures, although deaths have so far remained relatively stable

Europe’s daily number of cases (shown on this chart) has reached record levels, according to WHO figures, although deaths have so far remained relatively stable 

This time, officials are hoping they don’t have to reach that point. The regional government is spending 50 million euro (£45.5 million) to build by the end of October a massive permanent new ‘epidemics hospital’ with more than 1,000 beds. 

It’s also promising more resources for primary care, since health centers have now become the new bottleneck of citizens concerned that they may have contracted the virus.

EUROPE WARNED TO BRACE FOR HIGHER MORTALITY RATE 

The WHO warned Europe this week to brace for higher mortality rates over the autumn as cases soared on the continent.

Spain, France, the Netherlands, Malta, Greece, Slovenia and Ukraine are all reporting more cases than ever.

In the last seven days, Spain has reported an average of 10,140 cases each day, France 8,684, Russia 5,559, the United Kingdom 3,286, and Ukraine 2,953.

The countries reporting the highest average deaths over the same period were Russia 114, Spain 59, Ukraine 54, Romania 38 and France 36.  

‘It’s going to get tougher. In October, November, we are going to see more mortality,’ WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said on Monday.

‘It’s a moment where countries don’t want to hear this bad news, and I understand,’ Kluge said, adding that he wanted to send the ‘positive message’ that the pandemic ‘is going to finish, at one moment or another.’ 

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In addition to performing most of the testing, first-row doctors in Spanish health centers have now taken the burden of contact tracing.

‘The problems in primary care are not from the past six months,’ said Dr. Olaya Muñoz, who works in a health center in the heart of Madrid. ‘COVID has just been more stress for a system that was malfunctioning for at least a decade.’

Muñoz finds time to talk, while catching her breath, as she walks uphill to visit two elderly patients at home. After that, more than 40 appointments await her back at her community health center. Although these days they do most of them by phone, she can’t devote more than an average of six minutes per patient.

‘The workload is just unbearable,’ she said.

Dr. María Cruz Martín Delgado, spokeswoman for Spain’s intensive care specialists’ association known as Semicyuc, says that a collapse in primary care couldn’t only lead to more asymptomatic cases to go undetected but also poorer or no treatment of other illnesses that eventually could lead to more patients downstream, in hospitals and ICUs.

What Martín wants is a clear protocol from authorities at the national and regional levels on how to proceed.

‘We need to know what is the point when we need to turn down other patients, because we doctors can’t take all responsibility again having to respond to an emergency when we are not given the resources to do so,’ she said.

Velayos, the intensive care specialist from Fuenlabrada, said that the work overload in March and April was widely acknowledged among his colleagues ‘as part of an exceptional situation that needed to be met with all the world´s generosity.’

‘But right now we are talking about a situation becoming chronic, where stress is going to be the norm and routine,’ he said.

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RNLI lifesavers rescue three fishermen as they desperately cling to their capsized boat

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rnli lifesavers rescue three fishermen as they desperately cling to their capsized boat

A video of a dramatic lifeboat rescue of three fishermen who were clinging to their capsized vessel has been released by the RNLI.

The men were fishing for lobster near Roker Pier in Sunderland on Saturday when their boat became snagged on floating line from a lobster pot and overturned. 

Although they had life jackets on board, the men were not wearing them when the vessel got into difficulty, leaving them clinging to the hull of their sinking boat.

Three drowning fishermen were pulled to safety when their boat capsized as they were fishing for lobster near Roker Pier in Sunderland on Saturday

Three drowning fishermen were pulled to safety when their boat capsized as they were fishing for lobster near Roker Pier in Sunderland on Saturday

Three drowning fishermen were pulled to safety when their boat capsized as they were fishing for lobster near Roker Pier in Sunderland on Saturday

Several members of the public raised the alarm when they saw the men, who were trying to haul a lobster line back on board, hanging on to their upturned boat.

The Coastguard requested RNLI lifeboats be launched and crews from Tynemouth and Sunderland were called out.

Within 10 minutes, the RNLI volunteers had arrived at the scene where they grabbed the drowning fishermen and pulled them to safety. 

The men were taken back to Sunderland Marina where paramedics checked them over and one man was taken to hospital.

A RNLI spokesperson said they have released the footage of the dramatic rescue to warn the public of the dangers of not wearing a life jacket.   

The dramatic lifeboat rescue was captured on video by RNLI volunteers who responded to the alert within minutes

The dramatic lifeboat rescue was captured on video by RNLI volunteers who responded to the alert within minutes

The dramatic lifeboat rescue was captured on video by RNLI volunteers who responded to the alert within minutes

RNLI volunteer helmsman Paul Nicholson said: ‘We understand the boat capsized after becoming snagged on floating line from a lobster pot.

‘Thankfully, our volunteers were able to respond extremely quickly to this incident and prevent a tragic accident which could have very easily ended up with three lives being lost.

‘Hopefully, the dramatic photographs and video of this incident will act as a reminder to those who go out to sea about why it is important to wear your life jacket and not leave it in a locker on the boat.’

RNLI said they have released the footage of the dramatic rescue to warn the public of the dangers of not wearing a life jacket. Pictured: The men are pulled to safety by volunteers after they were left clinging to the hull of their sinking boat

RNLI said they have released the footage of the dramatic rescue to warn the public of the dangers of not wearing a life jacket. Pictured: The men are pulled to safety by volunteers after they were left clinging to the hull of their sinking boat

RNLI said they have released the footage of the dramatic rescue to warn the public of the dangers of not wearing a life jacket. Pictured: The men are pulled to safety by volunteers after they were left clinging to the hull of their sinking boat

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Migrants arrivals could break record again as ‘more than 400’ arrive in UK

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migrants arrivals could break record again as more than 400 arrive in uk

Britain’s migrant arrival record could be broken again today as ‘more than 400’ land in the UK as they rush to cross the Channel before weather changes.  

At least 27 boats were brought into the marina in Dover, Kent after migrants attempted the crossing following a quiet few days due to high winds in the Channel.

Border Force deployed extra resources as crossings resumed in earnest today, with boats containing as many as 30 people spotted in the busy shipping route.     

Authorities were forced to make use of lifeboats at 8am to collect those making the illegal crossing as Border Force vessels were already full to capacity.

Photographs from Dover captured dozens of people thought to be migrants wrapped in blankets and wearing life jackets as they arrived on British shores. 

Small children (pictured today) were among hundreds of migrants rescued by packed Border Force vessels today as they attempted to cross the Channel to the UK

Small children (pictured today) were among hundreds of migrants rescued by packed Border Force vessels today as they attempted to cross the Channel to the UK

Small children (pictured today) were among hundreds of migrants rescued by packed Border Force vessels today as they attempted to cross the Channel to the UK

At least 27 boats were brought into the marina in Dover, Kent after migrants attempted the treacherous crossing following days of high winds in the Channel. Pictured: Arrivals today

At least 27 boats were brought into the marina in Dover, Kent after migrants attempted the treacherous crossing following days of high winds in the Channel. Pictured: Arrivals today

At least 27 boats were brought into the marina in Dover, Kent after migrants attempted the treacherous crossing following days of high winds in the Channel. Pictured: Arrivals today

Young children were among those rescued by authorities on what an insider described as a ‘very, very busy morning’ for Border Force. 

Migrants are thought to have taken advantage of favourable conditions in the Channel, with wind speeds as low as 6mph early this morning. 

Today has been described as ‘the last day of opportunity’ before the weather turns on Wednesday, making conditions too difficult to attempt crossings.

There were no crossings over the weekend or on Monday as French authorities warned of strong northerly winds and strong currents. 

Border Force deployed extra resources as crossings resumed in earnest today, with boats containing as many as 30 people spotted in the busy shipping route

Border Force deployed extra resources as crossings resumed in earnest today, with boats containing as many as 30 people spotted in the busy shipping route

Border Force deployed extra resources as crossings resumed in earnest today, with boats containing as many as 30 people spotted in the busy shipping route

One of a group of people, thought to be migrants, makes a victory gesture on the deck of HMC Seeker, at Dover marina in Kent today

One of a group of people, thought to be migrants, makes a victory gesture on the deck of HMC Seeker, at Dover marina in Kent today

One of a group of people, thought to be migrants, makes a victory gesture on the deck of HMC Seeker, at Dover marina in Kent today

Photographs from Dover captured dozens of people thought to be migrants wrapped in blankets and wearing lifejackets as they arrived on British shores

Photographs from Dover captured dozens of people thought to be migrants wrapped in blankets and wearing lifejackets as they arrived on British shores

Photographs from Dover captured dozens of people thought to be migrants wrapped in blankets and wearing lifejackets as they arrived on British shores

But dozens of people were today spotted having to queue up and wait to be allowed ashore due to the volume of new arrivals.

Arrivals wearing face masks were also seen lining up along the side of Border Force cutter Seeker.

Seeker, which made a rare visit to the inner harbour to drop off the migrants, is part of a scaled-up contingent of Border Force vessels that have been busy in the Channel today.

In total, the agency has had at least five boats in operation: cutters Seeker and Searcher and patrol boats Hunter, Speedwell and Eagle.

A police boat has also been operating in the Channel along with the coastguard helicopter and the RNLI.

Arrivals wearing face masks were seen lining up along the side of Border Force cutter Seeker

Arrivals wearing face masks were seen lining up along the side of Border Force cutter Seeker

Arrivals wearing face masks were seen lining up along the side of Border Force cutter Seeker

Seeker, which made a rare visit to the inner harbour to drop off the migrants, is part of a scaled-up contingent of Border Force vessels that have been busy in the Channel today

Seeker, which made a rare visit to the inner harbour to drop off the migrants, is part of a scaled-up contingent of Border Force vessels that have been busy in the Channel today

Seeker, which made a rare visit to the inner harbour to drop off the migrants, is part of a scaled-up contingent of Border Force vessels that have been busy in the Channel today

In total, the agency has had at least five boats in operation: cutters Seeker and Searcher and patrol boats Hunter, Speedwell and Eagle

In total, the agency has had at least five boats in operation: cutters Seeker and Searcher and patrol boats Hunter, Speedwell and Eagle

In total, the agency has had at least five boats in operation: cutters Seeker and Searcher and patrol boats Hunter, Speedwell and Eagle

More than 6,500 migrants have successfully travelled to the UK aboard small boats in 2020, analysis shows.

September is the busiest month on record, despite there being over a week to go.

The current single-day record for migrant crossings is 416, set on September 2.

On Monday evening the first of up to 400 people were seen arriving at a military barracks that is being used to house Channel migrants.

Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, has been selected by the Home Office to house migrants while their asylum claims are processed.

More than 6,500 migrants have successfully travelled to the UK aboard small boats in 2020, analysis shows. Pictured: Arrivals today

More than 6,500 migrants have successfully travelled to the UK aboard small boats in 2020, analysis shows. Pictured: Arrivals today

More than 6,500 migrants have successfully travelled to the UK aboard small boats in 2020, analysis shows. Pictured: Arrivals today

September is the busiest month on record, despite there being over a week to go. Pictured: Migrants on a Border Force rib at Dover marina in Kent today

September is the busiest month on record, despite there being over a week to go. Pictured: Migrants on a Border Force rib at Dover marina in Kent today

September is the busiest month on record, despite there being over a week to go. Pictured: Migrants on a Border Force rib at Dover marina in Kent today

Today has been described as 'the last day of opportunity' before the weather turns on Wednesday, making conditions too difficult to attempt crossings

Today has been described as 'the last day of opportunity' before the weather turns on Wednesday, making conditions too difficult to attempt crossings

Today has been described as ‘the last day of opportunity’ before the weather turns on Wednesday, making conditions too difficult to attempt crossings

Staff in Folkestone were seen yesterday walking around the disused military base surveying the large open facility and its multiple accommodation buildings.

A member of staff wearing a Hi Vis jacket was seen pointing out where a shower block is going to be installed in the outside space between the housing blocks.

In the evening, around 30 people were rushed inside after arriving at the barracks in two black Mercedes and one grey Volkswagen.

People thought to be migrants arrive at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, where migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats are being housed in the military barracks

People thought to be migrants arrive at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, where migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats are being housed in the military barracks

People thought to be migrants arrive at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent, where migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats are being housed in the military barracks

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Charlie Hebdo magazine’s HR chief had ‘ten minutes’ to leave home after receiving death threats

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charlie hebdo magazines hr chief had ten minutes to leave home after receiving death threats

Charlie Hebdo’s head of human resources was given ‘ten minutes’ to leave her home forever after police received credible death threats during the terror trial.

Marika Bret has been living under police protection for nearly five years in the aftermath of the terrorists assault on the satirical magazine’s headquarters in January 2015.

But she was escorted out of her home by police last week after receiving threats that were ‘sufficiently concrete to be taken seriously’. 

Bret said that she would not be returning. 

Marika Bret (pictured) has been living under police protection for nearly five years in the aftermath of the deadly assault on the satirical magazine's headquarters in January 2015

Marika Bret (pictured) has been living under police protection for nearly five years in the aftermath of the deadly assault on the satirical magazine's headquarters in January 2015

Marika Bret (pictured) has been living under police protection for nearly five years in the aftermath of the deadly assault on the satirical magazine’s headquarters in January 2015

‘I had ten minutes to gather my things and leave my home. Ten minutes to leave behind a part of my life, that’s a bit short, that’s very brutal,’ she told weekly news magazine Le Point published on Monday.

The threats coincide with the trial of 14 suspected accomplices of the perpetrators of the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket that left a total of 17 dead.

Twelve people, including some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists, were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the offices of the magazine, whose no-taboo style, including publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, had divided the country.

Brett, the head of human resources, (pictured wearing a face mask to walk into the courthouse in Paris for the trial earlier this month) was given 'ten minutes' to leave her home forever after police received credible death threats during the terror trial

Brett, the head of human resources, (pictured wearing a face mask to walk into the courthouse in Paris for the trial earlier this month) was given 'ten minutes' to leave her home forever after police received credible death threats during the terror trial

Brett, the head of human resources, (pictured wearing a face mask to walk into the courthouse in Paris for the trial earlier this month) was given ‘ten minutes’ to leave her home forever after police received credible death threats during the terror trial

Twelve people were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the offices of the magazine (above)

Twelve people were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the offices of the magazine (above)

Twelve people were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the offices of the magazine (above)

There is ‘a crazy amount of hatred surrounding Charlie Hebdo’, Bret told Le Point, saying the forced departure from her home ‘translates the unprecedented level of tension that we are having to deal with’.

Since the start of the trial, which prompted Charlie Hebdo to republish controversial cartoons, ‘we have received all kinds of horrible messages, notably threats from Al-Qaeda, and calls to finish the job started by the Kouachi brothers,’ Bret said.

Al-Qaeda earlier this month threatened Charlie Hebdo with a repeat of the massacre of its staff.

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