Europe has been one of the regions most affected by the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, as many countries including Spain and Italy report record numbers of those affected by COVID-19. Each country has implemented containment protocols as they attempt to minimize the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.
As of April 3, there have been over 1 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, resulting in over 50,000 deaths. More than 30,000 of these deaths have taken place in Spain and Italy combined.
Spain has seen a significant increase in their cases recently, as they have reported the highest number of mortalities in one day, with 950 people dying from complications of COVID-19. In order to regulate the limited activity of citizens on the streets, the Italian and Spanish governments have been using drones to observe the activity of citizens who may be disobeying shelter-in-place orders.
Spain declared a national state of emergency on March 14. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez stated, “The government of Spain will protect all its citizens and will guarantee the right life conditions to slow the pandemic with as little inconvenience as possible.”
Italy is entering its fourth week of government-mandated lockdown. Their regulations limit the number of people from each household allowed outside, allowing exceptions only for grocery shopping and obtaining medication. If citizens are found breaking quarantine regulations, they are facing fines equal to $2,300 USD.
The United Kingdom is also on lockdown, which has now been going on for two weeks. The duration of the lockdown is yet to be determined. The lockdown is enforced by police presence patrolling the streets. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is strongly mandating stay at home orders. In an announcement made to the citizens of the UK Johnson wrote that “things will get worse before they get better.”
Johnson himself recently tested positive for COVID-19. He has shown very mild symptoms and is currently going on his second week of self-isolation by working from home.
The strain on healthcare institutions across Europe has forced the implementation of exceptional regulations. Spain’s government now requires all doctors to be isolated for a minimum of three weeks. This measure attempts to prevent healthcare providers from further spreading the virus.
As of April 1, approximately 15,000 healthcare professionals in Spain have tested positive for COVID-19.
Due to the shortage of doctors, Spain has called upon fourth-year medical students to work in hospitals with COVID-19 patients and at testing sites to ease the pressure on health care workers. Prime Minister Sanchez announced that the fourth-year medical students who are currently in residency will have their contracts officially extended. Students who have not yet had the opportunity of completing their fourth-year residency tests will be offered the opportunity to pass these exams and will be eligible to work in the field as an accredited professional.
These situations indicate how the medical industry will be seeing increased strain in the coming weeks and highlights the importance for more programs that make healthcare training accessible and affordable.
The Maine Community College System announced on March 31 that they will be providing free resources to train unemployed and furloughed workers in health care skills. The program will help to provide necessary skills as Maine’s healthcare system faces the challenge of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Maine.