In another shining example of “universal healthcare”, the public healthcare system in Spain is collapsing under the stress of COVID 19. Patients are found abandoned by staff, with people left dead in their own beds in nursing homes, as not enough staff or resources are available to care for them. Most of these patients appear to be seniors.
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The Spanish military has found older residents of some care homes “completely abandoned” and even “dead in their beds,” Defense Minister Margarita Robles said in a television interview on Monday.
They were found as soldiers disinfected and provided emergency health care services this week to residential homes across the country. Robles did not give an exact figure for the number of dead bodies found by Spanish soldiers.
With more than 39,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,800 deaths as of Tuesday, Spain is the second hardest-hit country in Europe.
While the usual protocol in Spanish nursing homes is to put the body of a deceased person in cold storage until a funeral service picks it up, bodies are now being left in beds until properly equipped staff can remove them.
Speaking in a television interview, Robles said staff in some centers had left the nursing homes after cases of COVID-19 were detected. Residents were abandoned to take care of themselves, even though some were sick and in serious condition.
The defense minister said the government will take action against those responsible. “We will be completely relentless and forceful with the kind of treatment elderly residents receive in these centers,” Robles said. “I know that a vast majority [of centers] are fulfilling their obligations.”
Meanwhile, Spanish prosecutors have launched an investigation into the incidents. In Spain, around 19% of the population is older than 65; the country has one of the longest life expectancies in the world.
Some people’s bodies were found under the same roof as loved ones who were still alive, Spanish media says.
Reports say that some care home staff had been sent home after virus outbreaks were detected at the properties, making it likely that elderly residents were infected.
Spain’s general prosecutor has launched an investigation as authorities promised to be ‘strict and inflexible’ about safeguarding older people.
The Spanish military were mobilised to focus on elderly care homes towards the end of last week.
State prosecutors have already announced they are investigating a Madrid care home where at least 17 people have died.
The places where bodies have been found ‘abandoned’ have not been identified.
Spain’s Defence Minister Margarita Robles told a prime-time Spanish TV programme: ‘The army, during some visits, has seen elderly people absolutely abandoned, if not dead in their beds.
‘We are going to be strict and inflexible when dealing with the way old people are treated in these residences.’
Those who have died are mainly people over 70 and particularly the over-80s, health ministry spokeswoman Maria Jose Sierra said.
‘Nearly 70 percent of patients placed in intensive care units are more than 60 years old,’ she added.
Under coronavirus protocols, health workers have been instructed to leave bodies in place in suspected Covid-19 deaths until the arrival of a doctor. But given the upsurge in deaths, the delay can be lengthy.
Part of the problem in Spain seems to be the Chinese made virus test kits, which are failing to detect positive ID’s. Business Insider reports:
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Microbiology experts in Spain have said that rapid coronavirus tests that the country bought from China are not consistently detecting positive cases.
The error was discovered as Spain is in the grip of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world, second only to Italy in the number of reported deaths.
Those sources told the newspaper that the tests should have a sensitivity of more than 80%. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says rapid tests for influenza are required to have 80% sensitivity.