The figures are sobering. Lanzarote broke records for new coronavirus cases on two consecutive days last week, and the daily total of positive tests dwarfs those that were registered at the height of the crisis in late March and early April.
Lanzarote currently has 429 active cases of Covid-19, and although the vast majority are younger people who are exhibiting little or no symptoms, hospital beds are filling up and will continue to do so until the rise is halted. Currently, 10 patients (according to Lanzarote Cabildo) with coronavirus are in the Dr José Molina Orosa Hospital, one of whom is in intensive care.
The return of tourism is out of the question until the island reduces its rate of new infections, which currently stands at over 100 per 100,000 people over the last seven days (that figure needs to get below 20 before the UK will review quarantine measures). As a result, the island’s Cabildo and the Canarian Government have been forced to introduce strict new measures and tough new crackdowns on mask wearing.
We’re a long way from the days of mid-late May and early June, when the island moved from phase 2 to phase 3 of the lockdown and didn’t see a single new case for 27 days. Back then, Lanzarote’s low rates of Covid-19 were mentioned as a tourist attraction, and although the earliest of the second wave cases were introduced by tourists or locals who had visited other countries, the virus is now well-established in the local community.
The director of health services on Lanzarote, José Luis Aparicio, told Lancelot that “The situation is very worrying.” While he believes that the situation is “under control” he has reminded islanders that the first wave was defeated not by health workers, but by people staying at home: “The public also have to stop this second wave by wearing masks, observing social distancing, washing their hands and avoiding crowded areas.”
Lanzarote’s general hospital recently introduced contingency measures intended for any island with more than 100 cases per 100,000 citizens (currently, Gran Canaria and El Hierro fulfil this condition along with Lanzarote).
The measures include a limit on visits (1 hour a day, and always the same person); an increased reliance of telephone appointments for those with minor respiratory symptoms, and the limiting of consultations to higher risk cases. Non-urgent procedures such as spirometry, retinographs, programmed ECGs, non-urgent ultrasound scans and pap smears (except on high-risk women) have also been temporarily suspended.
The hospital will assign suspected cases with serious symptoms to a converted surgery ward. Up until now, they have been on the same ward as confirmed cases, but this decision will permit greater separation and free up space on the Covid-19 ward.