Countries must isolate, test, treat and trace to reduce coronavirus epidemics, says WHO

Spain coronavirus death toll jumps 849 in one day to 8,189

Number of confirmed cases rises to 94,417, according to health officials 

Samuel Lovett@samueljlovett
Tuesday 31 March 2020 11:41
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A total of 8,189 people who tested positive for coronavirus have now died in Spain, according to the country’s health ministry, marking a record rise of 849 deaths from Monday’s figures.

The number of confirmed cases has also increased to 94,417, up from 85,195, officials said.

Spain has the second highest coronavirus death toll behind Italy, where more than 11,000 people have died to date from the disease.

The number of people with Covid-19 who have died in Catalonia, one of Spain’s worst-affected areas, also rose by 262 over the past 24 hours.

More than 5,600 people currently need intensive care treatment while close to 20,000 patients have recovered from the disease.

Spanish authorities have started to build new morgues across the country as a result of the rising number of fatalities.

Local media have reported that a building in Madrid called “the doughnut” will be turned into a makeshift morgue, making it the city’s second after an ice rink was repurposed last week.

Health emergency chief Fernando Simon said the epidemic seemed to be nearing its peak in some areas, but stressed that Spain has a shortage of intensive care beds.

He also said: “We continue to have a major problem with ICU saturation.”

The latest figures come as Spain’s foreign minister, Arancha Gonzalez, proposed increasing the budget of the European Union to tackle the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Perhaps we should improve European cashflow, perhaps the European budget should be larger,” she said on French radio station Europe1.

Ms Gonzalez said the European Central Bank and the European Commission have announced efforts, but there is a need for more solidarity between EU countries.

Over the weekend the prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, extended Spain’s state of emergency, requiring all non-essential workers to remain at home for a further two weeks.

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In a televised address to the nation, which is in its third week of lockdown, Mr Sanchez said: “This decision allows us to reduce the number of infected people to a much greater extent.”

He added that Spain would be making a “powerful collective effort” over the next few days.

With the country’s crisis continuing to escalate, one Spanish politician admitted that officials had “acted late” in preparing for and tackling the pandemic.

“It is called denial of normalcy – refusing to believe that something is happening. It is the same now as happened in London 150 years ago,” Rafael Bengoa​, a former adviser to the World Health Organisation and a health minister in the Basque regional government, told The Independent.

“We all acted late – in Spain, Italy and China when the virus first hit.”

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