Expert believes Spanish health system better prepared for second COVID-19 wave

MADRID, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- Jaume Benavent, director for Primary Health Care in Spain's Catalonia, said lately that he believed the Spanish health system is better prepared for the second COVID-19 wave, and better equipped than seven months ago.

"There are two main differences: the first is that we now know more about the coronavirus, how to treat and how to prevent it. And a second important difference is that the people most at risk tend to stay at home more, which means that the cases are less severe," Benavent told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The number of tests carried out to detect the virus have also increased. "We have strengthened our capacity to diagnose the virus with PCR and antigen tests and we have also promoted other systems such as an echocardiograms for the thorax," he added.

The doctor noted that Spain is now carrying out almost 122,000 tests a day, with a total of just over 15,503,165 to date.

In addition, health centers have been holding more online consultancies with patients to reduce contacts and possible social mixing, meaning that many sick people do not have to expose themselves to the coronavirus.

"Before the pandemic, the number of visits without face-to-face contact was between 10-15 percent and that has grown to around 70 percent, which is a big change in our model of patient attention," explained Benavent.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Spain since the start of the pandemic has surpassed one million after the country's Ministry of Health confirmed 16,973 new cases on Wednesday, taking the total to 1,005,295.

Spanish Minister of Health Salvador Illa recently confirmed that the country's 17 autonomous regions were studying the possible application of a curfew to prevent social mixing at night, stressing that the second wave "is a reality in all of Europe."

As the world is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, countries including Germany, Italy, China, Russia, Britain and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.

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