Madrid, martyr capital of a bereaved Spain


One of the pavilions of the Madrid exhibition center filled with beds ready to welcome infected patients on March 21.
One of the pavilions of the Madrid exhibition center filled with beds ready to welcome infected patients on March 21. COMUNIDAD DE MADRID / AFP

In the evening of March 25, 300 Covid-19 patients had already been transferred to Pavilion 5 at the Madrid exhibition center. Dozens of beds, with their individual oxygen tanks, were installed in a few days, separated from each other by modular white partitions. A small laboratory and portable radiology equipment complete the premises. By the end of the week, 1,300 beds should be operational in three pavilions, 96 of which are for intensive care. “Our role is to unclog all the hospitals in the region”says Eduardo Lopez Puertas, the director general of Ifema, manager of the complex. Ultimately, the site will be able to accommodate 5,500 patients, if necessary, if the worst is confirmed.

The emergency layout of this field hospital, in this place that is usually emblematic of the dynamism of the Spanish capital, gives an idea of ​​the emergency facing the country. Since the development of the exhibition center began, Friday 20 evening, 38,000 m2 PVC were deployed to make a cleanable floor, 15 km of copper sanitary cables installed, and 5,000 electrical outlets. Three liquid oxygen tankers are parked in huge empty parking lots. The army, on the front line in the martyred capital, has fitted showers and toilets in containers and helped to make beds, with staff dispatched by the Madrid emergency services.

2 km away is the 1,800 m Olympic ice rink2 Palacio de Hielo, which was transformed into a giant morgue, and the army again requisitioned to ensure the transfer of the corpses. Monday, the mayor of Madrid, Jose Luis Martinez Almeida made it clear that the city was overwhelmed: for lack of adequate protective equipment for his staff, he suspended, for a day, the work of the municipal funeral services which were working tirelessly. “We face more than 150 deaths a day”, he announced.

Army doctors to back up

Spain again broke a sad record on Thursday with more than 4,000 dead (4,089) – more than China – and 56,188 confirmed Covid-19 cases. In twenty-four hours, 655 additional deaths were recorded, against 738 the day before. South of the Pyrenees, the capital, center of political and economic power, is the most affected, with 2,090 deaths, including former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz, and more than 11,000 people hospitalized, as the ex-high representative of the European Union, Javier Solana.

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