The COVID-19 pandemic in Spain

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The COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. First wave: from the first cases to the end of June 2020

Monographs from the National Atlas of Spain.

Thematic structure


This second part of the publication is the core of this monograph. The pandemic had a fateful effect on public health during the first wave of the virus, which occurred during the months of March, April, May and June 2020. When using statistical data and presenting them in cartographic and graphic form, we are constantly reminded that there are people of flesh and blood behind each figure and each map. Many people were confronted with the virus, some of them spending time in hospital, and some, in the most serious cases, lost their lives to it.

This monograph is not an accounting exercise, nor is it a research study into potential deficiencies in the statistical information system. The highest level of scientific standards and careful treatment of the data provided from official sources have been characteristics of this study at all times.

The entire team of scientists and technical specialists involved in this project pay their heartfelt respects to those who suffered from the virus and to the healthcare staff who fought and treated them. Such a delicate subject could be approached in a variety of ways. In this publication, a linear narrative has been chosen in which, in the first place, the possible influence of certain factors existing prior to the arrival of the pandemic in Spain will be assessed, i.e. population patterns, the degree of concentration of the population in large urban areas, the influence of the cohort of elderly people in the demographic structure, comorbidities, etc.

The availability of healthcare resources (human and material) in both the public and the private health services will be examined. ‘Mobilisation’ is the only term that may be used to describe the approach to combating the pandemic adopted by the healthcare services, together with other bodies such as, for example, the Armed Forces. The evolution of the main health indicators of the pandemic (the amount of COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths) will then be examined in some detail. Two phases of the pandemic are identified (a rising phase and a downward phase), and a final summary is made to obtain a global view. Alongside this, the general mortality and excess mortality rates registered in the first half of 2020 will be assessed on the basis of the information provided by the Spanish Ministry of Health and the National Statistics Institute.

Finally, certain examples of different spatial behaviours within certain cities, metropolitan areas and regions will be proposed. Without wishing to definitively establish direct relationships between certain socio-economic indicators and the incidence of the pandemic, it may be observed that its incidence was uneven from a spatial point of view, and some assumptions may be formulated with sufficient justification to pursue future research.

The segmented presentation of such a complex process shall not prevent the reader from forming a comprehensive overview on the multiple different aspects dealt with. This monograph does not aim to reach conclusions, but to encourage reflection on the basis of maps and graphs forming a coherent, supported narrative thread that tries to show what happened as accurately as possible.


Co-authorship of the text in Spanish: Ángel Pueyo Campos y María Zúñiga Antón. See the list of members engaged

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You can download the complete publication The COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. First wave: from the first cases to the end of June 2020 in Libros Digitales del ANE site.