Diary of Spain in Lockdown - More deaths now than China

Wednesday 25th March

SPAIN has overtaken China now in number of deaths.  We are second in the world after Italy. The health system isn’t coping, doctors are having to make choices about who to save and who to let die according to their life expectancy. We are seeing pictures of overcrowded hospitals, of Covid-19 patients lying on hospital floors. This is scary.

This evening Juan told me that if his dad caught the illness he wouldn’t be taken to hospital, he wouldn’t be given a bed. This is the shocking truth. He’s 84, has recovered from pneumonia twice already this winter and is frail. This is why my Juan’s family have taken special precaution over his parents and his elderly aunt. They’ve had no contact with anybody for nearly two weeks now. Total isolation in the heart of Valencia. Shopping is done for them and put in the lift and collected by my mother-in-law when it reaches the seventh floor. Yesterday Juan took his mum some lemons from the garden and sent them up in the usual way. Her phone wasn’t working properly so she popped that in the lift and sent it down for him to sort it out.  How quickly we’ve become accustomed to these strange new ways of living.

Today I also heard that one of my colleagues from school is in total isolation with her mother, her husband and their two boys. Her father is in hospital and they, logically, have to be totally isolated for 14 days. I can’t begin to imagine what she must be going through, not being able to see her dad, not knowing how he’s getting on.

In Spain when a person goes into hospital they are expected to have an acompañante, a person to stay with them, and do the little tasks like help them eat, pass them what they need, maybe even take them to the toilet and let the nurses know when the drip has run out. They don’t have visiting hours here in the way the UK does, sending everyone home at 8pm. So people are quite literally used to being ‘accompanied’ while in hospital. For a nation where family is so important, being separated from sick and dying loved ones at this terrible time must be incomprehensible to them, not to mention the extra strain put on nurses who are now expected to carry out all these extra tasks, providing both clinical and emotional support.

This virus doesn’t distinguish rank or class, everyone’s fair game. Prince Charles joins the list of those infected today, but they say he’s doing well. And here in Spain both deputy presidents have tested positive, as have the president’s wife, mother and father-in-law. How long until Pedro Sanchez succumbs?

Meanwhile virtual schooling continues, and it hasn’t taken these teenagers long to suss out how to wreak havoc with the classes. One smart Alec gives the link to a friend, either in another group or from outside the school altogether and the intruder just pops up in the class, microphone on, disrupting everyone. And apparently there’s no way of blocking them.  Really Google Classroom, you should have been one step ahead.

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