In Europe, they are the two countries most affected, the two having set up containment as soon as possible. And also two of our main neighbors. Italy and Spain already count together, this Monday, nearly 30,000 inhabitants who lost their lives because of the Covid-19 (about 16,500 in Italy and 13,000 in Spain).
But after several weeks of relentless struggle against the spread of the coronavirus, these two countries seem, as in France, to have reason to hope that they have reached the peak of the epidemic, or at least to approach it.
Let us first analyze the number of cases of patients hospitalized in intensive care, considered by the Director General of Health in France, and by several epidemiologists, as a primary criterion. This indicator is important for gauging the current state of the spread of the epidemic, as well as the level of tension in which caregivers must work.
Inversion of the curve in Italy
Saturday, Italy had a day which will undoubtedly remain historic. While the curve of the number of patients in intensive care had only increased since February 25, day of the first admissions of serious cases, a reversal occurred. From 4,068 resuscitation beds occupied on Friday, it increased to 3,994 on Saturday, then 3,977 on Sunday, and 3,898 on Monday.
Even more encouraging: almost the same situation occurred in Lombardy, the Italian region in the north of the country, which was the most affected by the coronavirus. Several provinces had even imposed quarantine measures on their populations as early as the end of February, two weeks before national confinement. The number of serious cases was 1,381 on Friday; it rose to 1326 Saturday and to 1317 Sunday. The counter rose slightly on Monday, however, with 1,343 cases.
The curve has not yet reversed in Spain, but it is growing less and less. Admittedly, there was a rise on Sunday with 329 hospitalized in additional intensive care in 24 hours, but the results announced on Saturday and Monday are the lowest since March 17 (respectively 116 and 70 new cases).
Another important factor is that of the number of deaths in 24 hours, also announced every day. In Italy, it fell twice in a row this weekend (766 Friday, 681 Saturday and 525 Sunday), before rising again on Monday (636). Zooming further, we observe the same situation in Lombardy (351 dead announced Friday, 345 Saturday, 249 Sunday and 297 Monday). Proof that the downward trend remains to be confirmed.
Containment already extended in both countries
In Spain, the changeover seems to have taken place on April 2. The balance sheet of 637 deaths in 24 hours communicated on Monday, or two thirds of the record balance of April 2 (1000 dead), is even the lowest since March 25, as shown in the graph below.
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Does this mean that the hard part is over? One thing is certain, and the authorities are hammering it: these hopeful signs should not encourage relaxation. The confinement in each of the two countries has also been extended (until April 25 in Spain, announced the government Sunday, and "at least" until April 13 in Italy). "If containment efforts are maintained at the current level, these countries could have reached the peak of the epidemic," cautiously suggests virologist Marie-Paule Kieny, research director at Inserm.
“The emergency is not over. The danger has not gone away. We still have a few difficult months ahead of us, let's not spoil the sacrifices made, "warned Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza on Sunday in an interview with the daily newspapers Il Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica.