The vaccine has become the hope of nursing homes, hardest hit by the coronavirus since the second wave of the pandemic began in September. Until the last day of 2020, the Ministry of Health of the Government of the Canary Islands had recorded 59 deaths in residences. However, in the first days of the year, another four deaths associated with the outbreak of the Santa Rita macro-residence have been reported, another died as a result of the outbreak of the Cataleya residence and another that affects the San Pancracio Vistabella residence. All in Tenerife, the island most affected by the pandemic and with more restrictive measures in the last month. This Three Kings Day, in addition, the death of a man infected in the outbreak of a social health center in El Hierro, the Echedo residence, with 52 places and in which 14 people are infected; 11 residents and three workers.
Nursing homes: the bigger, the more lethal the virus
In total, there are 65 people who have died with coronavirus in all of these centers in the Canary Islands. This is 15% of the total deaths in the Archipelago from this disease, where 438 people have lost their lives. While in the first wave of the pandemic the Archipelago remained among the communities with the lowest incidence of the virus in centers for the elderly, in this second it is among the regions where this disease has most attacked. From September to the present there are 47 deaths.
The residence most affected by the disease is the Fundación Hogar Santa Rita, located in Puerto de La Cruz and with capacity for 712 users. The registered outbreak in this space is being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office, after a complaint from the UGT union which considers that the protocols had not been respected and that the staff continued working without knowing the result of their PCR. Since last December 7, this residence was operated by the Canarian Health Service, with personnel from the Hospital de La Candelaria. In this center, infections have affected more than 250 people and 20 users have died since then, but there are two other deaths that occurred in the first wave of the virus.
The residences of Tenerife, mostly private, They are the hardest hit by the outbreaks and where the most deaths have been registered in both the first and second waves. In the San Pancracio Vistabella, with a place for 28 users, an outbreak was found in mid-November for which the Ministry of Health also had to be intervened, which took over its management when all the personnel were in quarantine. Until the end of November, there were five deaths in this outbreak and one more person has died in the last week.
Another of the active outbreaks in Tenerife is that of the Cataleya residence (in the municipality of El Sauzal), which began in early December affecting 32 residents and 11 workers. Four people died in this center for the elderly in December and another death was reported earlier this year. Active also continues the outbreak in the residence of El Hierro where a man has died.
A tough autumn for the elderly
In November, three deaths were also registered in Tenerife in the outbreak detected in the Mirador de Ifara residence, with capacity for one hundred people. It began after four residents and two workers developed symptoms. After a screening at the center by the Canary Islands Health Service, the infections of up to 18 residents and 6 staff members were counted. Three people have died as a result of this outbreak. In November, in addition, there were two deaths in a residence in La Laguna, Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores.
In Gran Canaria, the hardest outbreak has been that of the El Sabinal center for the elderly, in which five people died last September. Also on that island, three users have died in the Dermatological socio-health center. Two of the deaths were recorded in late September and one in October. In addition, at the Taliarte residence, in Telde, the death of a person with COVID-19 has been verified in September and another in October at the Pino residence, in the island’s capital. In total, the island has 11 deaths in these centers for the elderly.
A less virulent first wave
In the first wave of the virus, most of the deaths also occurred in Tenerife residences (18), most associated with the outbreak of the Jardines de San Marcos residence in Tegueste, with eight deaths. Four were also detected at Fasnia’s residence, four deaths at the Magnolia Residential Park and two at the Santa Rita Foundation. In Gran Canaria, a death occurred in the Agüimes social and health center.
The evolution during the summer suggested that some of the restrictions that affect these centers would be relaxed, such as their harsh visiting regime or the fact that they have not been able to open the recreational centers for the elderly, from whom the confinement has taken many of their leisure activities.
The hope of vaccination
The Canary Islands vaccination schedule against COVID-19 is progressing apace. The Regional Government’s Health Council insists that the people who live in nursing homes and the staff who work in them have been given priority. In the Islands there are 7,042 users in these public and private residences and in the first week alone, 5,857 doses were given. It is expected that this week progress will continue and all users will be vaccinated. 21 days later the second dose will be given to all of these people. In that period of time, the vaccination of the social health personnel will be completed and the vaccination of the health staff has already begun. These are forecasts that will now be accelerated with the arrival of Moderna’s vaccine.