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One of the handful of big questions that Catalans - along with people all over the world - are asking themselves in these days of coronavirus lockdown is: when will it end? Or at least, when will we reach peak Covid-19 contagion and know that things are, in some relative way, improving? At the moment, all these questions are difficult to answer. However, a report prepared by the Catalan health ministry forecasts that the "peak" - the moment when the maximum number of people are infected with the virus in Catalonia - will occur between 24th and 28th April, that is, almost a month away.

That means, if correct, that we're in for a long hard slog in Catalonia on many levels, including a shocking death toll.

Lockdown, says the study, will very likely have to continue until June. Even if the curve is successfully flattened - as contemplated in one of the two scenarios considered by the study - the authors experts insist that isolation will have to continue until there is a "significant fall" in cases. According to their calculations, it won't be till we're into May that the curve really starts to slope seriously downward. And there'll still be more cases than we have now, even under the best scenario, until June.


The report, compiled by specialists in the Catalan health service using data right up until March 24th, notes that the growth trend in the epidemic in Catalonia is continuing on a curve like that of Italy at the moment. The authors apply a SIR epidemiological model to the observed situation. But this has several unknowns and one of them at present is whether the isolation measures taken starting on 13th March in Catalonia will make the Catalan curve flatten out sooner.

Because of that unknown, they've run two different scenarios: the first assumes the Italian model continues to apply to Catalonia. The second hypothesizes that Catalonia's lockdown measures will start to make a difference soon.

However, both have brutal conclusions. The numbers of cases and deaths will reach astronomical levels under either set of circumstances: scenario 1, the Italian model, forecasts the peak figure of active cases will be close to 122,000, and will be reached on 28th April; it envisages that as many as 13,000 people could die in Catalonia alone. In, scenario 2, the date for the peak number of virus sufferers will be reached just slightly sooner - 24th April - and will be around 71,000. In this scenario, deaths are calculated at 7,600. This figure, while also horrific, would at least save over 5,000 lives with respect to scenario 1. 

They are, nevertheless, just scenarios, and the authors note that the actual developments observed in the next few days will help to establish how much validity they have.       

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In fact, this Wednesday, Catalan president Quim Torra referred to this report. In a video conference with spokespeople for the Catalan political groups, he noted: "This is a scenario, and we hope it doesn't happen, but it is my duty to transfer to the citizenry what could happen. Full lockdown is needed, with the exception of only essential services".

He asserted once again that decisions in this regard were urgent.