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Spain's health workers are facing shortages of protective gear. Stock photo

Spain announces highest daily increase in Covid-19 deaths

Spain's health ministry has announced 838 Covid-19 deaths, the country's highest daily increase in fatalities, bringing the total to 6 528.

Published: March 30, 2020, 8:12 am

    Together with the US, the country is setting a grim new record, up from 769 the previous day.

    Spain now has the second highest death toll in the world after Italy, according to a new report by the Carlos III public health institute. The report also suggests that the real number of Covid-19 deaths could be much higher. A similar higher than usual death rate has been noted in Italy.

    “The real number of victims is more than two and a half times that officially certified,” warned Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo, one of the Italian cities most affected by the pandemic. He noted that nursing homes had seen a spike in deaths in March. In most of these fatalities, victims were never tested for the virus.

    Despite significant restrictions on the movement of people in Spain since March 14, cases continue to rise while hospitals struggle as demand grows for more ventilators for critical cases and protective gear for workers.

    According to Spanish daily El País, civil registry death records which show the average number of deaths in Spain’s regions since 2008, marked significant surges in deaths in Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha and Castilla y León in March. However, many victims were never tested for the virus. And as in Italy, the fatality rate is also higher among male patients.

    The data shows that even though the virus only affects slightly more men than women (52 percent), the number of men who died from the disease in this data sample was almost double that of the number of women: 376 versus 190.

    Madrid’s ice rink was turned into a morgue for Covid-19 victims last week. The company that operates the Palacio de Hielo, or Ice Palace, made their premises available for the dead on Monday, a spokesperson for the regional government confirmed. The ice rink is located in a shopping center filled with shops, restaurants, a bowling alley, a gym and a movie theater.

    The first coffins arrived on Monday evening already and were transferred by the army’s Emergency Military Unit (UME), They will be guarding the bodies until they are taken by funeral homes for burial or cremation. According to army sources, the unit has set up a logistics protocol for the regional government.

    Meanwhile citizens who have no choice but to work – such as supermarket cashiers, healthcare workers and cleaning staff – have been complaining about Spain’s “balcony police”. These self-appointed vigilantes have hurled objects and insults at those who dare to go out.

    In the Madrid region, police have now asked residents to exercise caution “before being disrespectful to anybody”. The police are also advising caregivers to wear a reflective vest is they leave their homes while associations recommend wearing a blue arm ribbon.

    Spain has overtaken China with the outbreak bringing Spanish hospitals to their breaking point. With a population of 47 million people to China’s 1,4 billion, Spain saw its official tally of infections climb past 85 000 on Monday. It also reported over 800 new deaths, for an overall toll of more than 7 300.

    More than 3,38 billion people worldwide have been asked or ordered to follow confinement measures in the fight against the new Coronavirus, according to an AFP news agency database.

    That represents around 43 percent of the total world population, which is 7,79 billion people according to a United Nations count in 2020.

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