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Spain recorded at least 85,195 confirmed cases, with at least 7,340 deaths from COVID-19 as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. It falls only behind the United States and Italy in case numbers. Only Italy — with nearly 11,600 deaths — surpasses Spain, according to the worldwide tally tracking the global coronavirus pandemic.
The country is entering its third week in lockdown, with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announcing this weekend stricter measures, closing down all non-essential business.
A man, wearing a face mask due the coronavirus outbreak, looks from behind a gate in downtown Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. More than 1.5 billion around the world have been told to stay in their homes. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause a more serious illness. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Despite bars, restaurants, schools, and shops largely staying closed for weeks, officials in the country took additional precautions to stop the spread of coronavirus by mandating that all non-essential workers do their jobs from home until April 9, Reuters reported.
But, the new measures, which confused many Spaniards, came under attack from business leaders who say the government is hurting the economy beyond repair, and opposition parties who accuse it of improvising in its response to the outbreak.
The government’s decision to impose a two-week halt effective Monday to all non-essential economic activity came even as authorities claimed that the previous two weeks of confinement were starting to pay off with a slower pace of the pandemic’s expansion.
Spain entered a period of mourning Sunday, with the government ordering that flags be flown at half-staff and a minute of silence be observed every day to pay respects for the dead.
Spanish health emergency chief Fernando Simon, who has led the country’s response to the outbreak, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, officials said in a press conference. He frequently interacted with the prime minister.
Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo tested positive for COVID-19 on March 25 days after she was hospitalized with a respiratory infection, Reuters reported.
Sanchez’s wife, Begoña Gómez, tested positive for the virus earlier this month and was self-isolating in their home in Madrid to ensure no one else was infected. Irene Montero, Spain’s equality minister, as well as Carolina Darias, Spain’s minister for territorial policy, also tested positive.
Nearly 15 percent of all those infected in Spain, almost 13,000 people, are among the country’s 646,000 health care professionals. This hampers hospitals’ efforts to help the tsunami of people gasping for breath.
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran and the Associated Press contributed to this report.