The Spanish coronavirus death toll has jumped to 4,089 as the country’s hospitals struggle to cope with the pandemic.
A total of 56,188 cases have been recorded in Spain compared to 47,610 yesterday. Authorities in Europe’s second worst-hit country have lengthened a nationwide lockdown until at least April 12 in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.
In the early hours of this morning the Spanish parliament voted to extend emergency measures confining people to their homes except for essential trips for food, medicine and work. But despite efforts to curb infections, hospital staff in Madrid say services are ‘collapsing’ due to the influx of patients into wards.
An ice rink in the capital has been converted into a temporary mortuary to cope with the rising death toll, which has now overtaken China – the original epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic which began in December. Italy has officially recorded 7,503 deaths from the airborne virus, making it the worst hit country in the world.
It comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Europe the new ‘epicentre of the pandemic’, with more daily deaths and cases recorded in the continent than anywhere else.
Nurse Lidia Perera said services are ‘collapsing’ at Madrid’s la Paz hospital and said more workers are urgently needed.
She added: ‘If you had told me three months ago that I would be working in these conditions in Spain, I wouldn’t have believed you. If they did [regular testing], they might end up without any workers.’
Between Tuesday and Wednesday the Spanish death toll figures jumped by 27% to 3,434. Authorities have set up a field hospital in Madrid’s Ifema congress centre as the number of cases overwhelm hospitals.
Earlier this week, the country’s defence ministry said elderly people were being found abandoned and dead in their own homes by soldiers who were drafted to help in the fight against the virus.
A majority of 321 lawmakers voted in favor of extending the lockdown, while 28 abstained.
The opposition conservative People’s Party supported the measure, but its leader Pablo Casado chastised Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez for what he described as a late and inadequate response to the crisis.
Casado blasted the decision not to cancel the International Women’s Day marches on March 8, which drew hundreds of thousands of people to the streets, and criticised the government’s failure to provide medical professionals with vital equipment.
Addressing parliament, he said: ‘Governments don’t send their soldiers to the front without helmets, flak jackets and ammunition. But our health workers don’t have any protection.’
Procuring vital equipment like masks, scrubs and gloves has become difficult as the government fights to contain the virus.
Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez claimed market speculation was driving up prices for some items.
Speaking to Basque station Radio Euskadi, she said: ‘We must favour long-term purchases from a group of more stable and more established companies so that we don’t depend on these crooks.’
Government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said separately
that some suppliers were not meeting delivery deadlines.