Amanda Darling reports from Spain

Each day is worse than the previous one. An ice rink in Madrid has been turned into a makeshift mortuary, a grisly reminder of how unequipped we are to deal with rapid death on this scale. Bodies lie awaiting removal. Lockdown remains in force with stories of large fines being given to those who flout the laws.

We have not reached the peak of the curve yet although the media tries to tell us the peak is around the corner. The only good news being that hospital discharges are greater than the deaths. This week is the “Decisive Week” for Spain - the mortality figure stands at 4858 (Friday 27th March). [6528 is today’s (Sunday 29th) death figure for Spain. Madrid and Catalunya the worst hit areas.]rst hit areas.

Spain made provision for homeless and as soon as this was done, it was at full capacity.  I do not hear news of how the UK  homeless are being helped in this time of pandemic.  Spain thought the homeless were potentially the most vulnerable but figures show the elderly in residential homes are even more so. The Ministry of Defence sent in an Emergency Unit to disinfect many homes and found unskilled staff, without PPE, suffering from their own casualties and those already deceased, together in the same building. Corpses left in their beds until officials were able to collect and remove them safely.

In Madrid the IFEMA Fairground has been converted into a makeshift hospital which once finished will have capacity for 5000 who are not critical thus freeing up ITU beds for those who are. Hotels which cannot be converted to medical establishments are being used for medical personnel to live away from the danger of infecting their families.

Spain was slow to react to the threat of this virus. Thousands of football fans travelled to Italy and returned to Madrid. International Women’s Day was celebrated with crowds gathering everywhere. When Pedro Sanchez finally mentioned lockdown, thousands of students returned to their homes spending happy times with their friends in bars and restaurants doing what the Spanish love to do; socialising in close proximity. Now the bomb has exploded and the Spanish are dealing with the aftermath.

The UK is two weeks behind Spain and on a very similar trajectory. Exponentially the death rate is rising. Has the lockdown been imposed in time? Look to South Korea, look to Japan, both countries have successfully contained and reduced rates of infection and death. What actions did they take and can we emulate them? Look at Italy and Spain, what did they do wrong?

Spain has only recently crawled out from a recession and this crisis will hit the economy hard. The Spanish Government is throwing money at the problem in the form of a moratorium on mortgages and rents, guaranteed 700 euros a month for self employed, loans, grants and incentives for businesses and banks; the austerity of the previous ten years will not be tolerated now.

On a personal level this week I have been made redundant. How does this make me feel? Strangely elated. I feel free to self isolate along with my high-risk husband. I no longer worry about putting him at risk. I discovered the local shop in the village Cómpeta 5 km away is happy to take WhatsApp orders, we pay via bank transfer and within half an hour the shopping is delivered

I am very careful and ask for it to be placed on a table outside and wearing an apron and marigold gloves I take the groceries indoors and wipe each item with a hot soapy cloth before putting away. I have read the virus can live on surfaces like plastic for as long as five days, on paper two days. I cannot take any risks whatsoever. I have no intention of leaving the house for a further two weeks.

Now I have time to ponder, to wander the garden and think upon what is important in life. To be grateful for what I have and to hope the world will become a better place after this crisis is over.