Catalan and Spanish health authorities have naturally been watching Italy very closely as the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded in a similar European country to their own, with evolution that is only few days ahead of its Mediterranean neighbours to the west. As Covid-19 has shifted its epicentre to Europe, Italy's grim statistics in confirmed cases and fatalities have been the most dramatic on the continent, followed on most indicators by those of Spain. However, a breakdown of the evolution of the coronavirus by regions shows that the rate of mortality in Catalonia from Covid-19 is now worse than in Lombardy, the northern region most affected by coronavirus in Italy.
An analysis of region-specific data on deaths from the virus by the Financial Times reveals that mortality in Catalonia is evolving, at present, at a faster rate than that recorded in Lombardy when the same number of days had gone by since the virus began to make an impact locally. The analysis compares the characteristics of Covid-19 development in different locations by aligning their respective curves at a "zero point" - the day they recorded their tenth death from the virus. In Lombardy, a lockdown of the population was applied but with some delay, and the region has now surpassed Hubei as the subnational region most affected by coronavirus in the world.
As the Financial Times data shows, the curves for Madrid, Catalonia and New York now all show dangerously-rapid evolution which could even exceed the northern Italian statistics. All three regions have higher death tolls than Lombardy at the same number of days after the zero point, as well as showing rates of increase that are the same or even higher than those of the Italian region at the equivalent point in time.
Here’s our newest chart, tracking death tolls in cities & regions:— John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) March 23, 2020
• Wuhan was ground zero, but Lombardia has overtaken it as worst-hit region worldwide
• Madrid could be worse than Lombardia, and New York’s death trajectory looks steep
All charts here: https://t.co/VcSZISFxzF pic.twitter.com/ntEkDAp1I3
There is an order of magnitude between the current deathtoll in Catalonia - 339 as of 23rd March - and that of Lombardy on the same day, 3,776. But that means little. The exponential propagation of the virus means that Catalonia's figure has already jumped by more than an order of magnitude - from just 18 deaths (on 16th March) to the present total of well over 300 - in the last eight days.
Spanish health authorities assert that the lockdown measures now enforce across the Spanish state are likely to change the trend in a matter of days. In Italy, there is some suggestion that the restrictions might now be starting to have an effect: on both Sunday and Monday, the whole of Italy saw a decrease in both new coronavirus cases detected and deaths per day. However, the number of deaths in Italy rose again on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, new statistics released on Tuesday night show that the mortality in Catalonia continues apace: 177 new deaths in the last day, a 52% increase that takes the total to 516.