Why we all need to stay home. Coronavirus lockdown in Spain

The last place you want to be on a Friday 13th, just as the country declares a State of Emergency in the face of a fast-approaching, potentially apocalyptic virus, is at the hospital Emergency Department. But that’s exactly where we found ourselves last Friday despite all our best laid self-isolating plans.

Day 1 of school shutdown and the ten year old manages to trip and fall in the kitchen, landing heavily on the tiled floor with the side of his face. His roars indicate immediately that it was a proper clonk. Then he turns that particular shade of waxy white that tells you that you really do need to take him to the doctor’s damn it.

Luckily the medical centre is 5 minutes from home and it’s always easy to get an appointment. Never more so than when everyone is avoiding it, quite literally, like the plague. Within 15 minutes of his bump the doctor is examining Jack. He checks him over thoroughly and, despite an unfortunate vomiting incident in the surgery, he is given the all-clear and we are sent home with a page of instructions on how to monitor him in the coming hours. Phew.

An hour later and he is vomiting again. Between retches he sobs ‘I feel weird’. Richie and I exchange a look. ‘I can’t speak properly,’ he slurs, his little mouth lopsided, eyes looking up at us with real fear. Oh no, oh no. We bundle him into the car. I sit beside him in the back, salad spinner at the ready to catch the next bout of vomit. 40 long minutes later we pull up outside the hospital and dash into Paediatric Emergencies.

Paediatric ER is adjacent to the main hospital ER and, given the day that is in it, we approach the building with trepidation. Images of Italy’s hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus crisis, with patients piling up in corridors and exhausted staff in tears are vivid in my mind as we step through the automatic doors.

The reception area is calm and white and empty. The only sign of anything out of the ordinary is the mask the receptionist is wearing. I stand a metre from the counter and recite Jack’s woes and national health card number.

We are triaged immediately in a side room by a masked nurse, then sit with two other families spaced at cautious distances around the echoing waiting room. It is less than ten minutes before we are called through and Jack is seen by a paediatrician. Only one of us is allowed to accompany him, a new infection control rule.  

The paediatrician performs another thorough check and finds no sign of neurological damage. I am massively relieved of course but also, if I’m really honest, a little annoyed that we have had to come here for a false alarm. But he is still poorly and the vomiting needs to be stopped. A nurse takes blood for testing and puts in a line for intravenous anti-emetic and he is placed in an individual room (still on the ER) for a few hours monitoring. 

The room has a computer loaded with kids’ movies which keeps Jack happy and a sink loaded with hand soap, paper towels and hand washing instructions which I make excellent use of, coming over all ‘Lady Macbeth’ as I picture contagion at every turn despite the impeccable cleanliness and strict infection control procedures of the entire facility.

Five hours later Jack has managed to keep down a yogurt and we are given the all-clear and sent home. For a Friday 13th, it could have been a lot worse. 


And here’s the thing, the hospital did not bear any resemblance to the apocalyptic images you might have of a country going into lockdown because of a healthcare emergency. The reason being that this drastic action is being taken before the sh$t really hits the fan which is when it needs to happen. And if you’re reading this from a country that is not making this mandatory or clear to you then I urge you to look at the information and take the decision for yourself. Protect you, your loved ones, and your health service. 

If it seems drastic to you to limit daily life as much as we currently are in Spain, think on this. Accidents will happen, even in your kitchen, but many more happen on the roads or in the mountains, or in a steelworks. Catastrophic health events and illnesses other than coronavirus will happen but if we can control the pace of the spread of illness so that there is not a sudden deluge of critically ill patients all at once then we are doing what we can to protect our excellent health service.

There are only so many medical helicopters, ambulances, ventilators, staff and ICU beds to go around. Today’s coronavirus stats here in Asturias, northern Spain are running at 17% of patients currently hospitalised and 1.5% in intensive care. At current levels of infection that is perfectly manageable but we have all seen the steeply climbing graphs.

We need to do what we can to flatten the curve and also to limit, in so far as we can, other drains on our healthcare and emergency services. Home quarantine can help achieve both of these aims.

No-one wants to find themselves in the hospital Emergency Department at this point in time. Trust me, I know. Let’s all do our bit to avoid it.

#stayhome #quedáteencasa #isolate




  1. Really pleased that Jack is OK….. I agree with your sentiments entirely. I really do not know what the UK government is playing at. We will come through this but extreme measures are needed. Anyone reading this should take note and realise that a few weeks of inconvenience and limited person to person contact is a very small price to pay to protect the vulnerable, the frail and the elderly.. Thanks for posting.

    • Exactly. I am horrified by the UK government’s approach. And as a result of their lackadaisical approach and mixed messages (‘don’t go to the pub but we won’t tell any establishments to close’) people there have no idea and are just not taking it seriously.

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