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With at least 3,434 fatalities since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Iberian nation now has a death toll that is more than half of Italy’s, which as of Wednesday morning stood at 6,820.
Spain’s Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday a 20 percent spike in infections from a day earlier, to at least 47,610. More than 5,000 people have recovered, officials said.
People walk past a poster that reads ‘I want you to stay home’, by artist TvBoy amid a lockdown in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
“(It’s) an increase equivalent to the one we saw in the last days, and lower than the ones we were observing last week,” said Fernando Simon, director of the Center for Coordination of Sanitation Emergencies, according to El Pais. “These increases are variable to the different communities, but the evolution of the epidemic in which we are approaching the peak does not go hand-in-hand with the overload in the hospital system, because it takes a few days from the first symptoms.”
Spain now stands behind China – where the virus was first detected late last year – Italy and the United States for most coronavirus infections.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, China has seen more than 81,660 infections, while Italy had at least 69,176 as of Wednesday morning. The United States is closing in fast with more than 55,225 infections.
The coronavirus outbreak in Spain has put a tragic strain on its health care system, forcing officials to convert hotels into makeshift hospitals. An ice rink in Madrid was turned into a morgue after funeral homes in the Spanish capital became overwhelmed with the rising death toll.
A patient, center, is transferred to a medicalized hotel during the COVID-19 outbreak in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
More than 3,100 people are currently hospitalized under intensive care, according to the El Pais newspaper.
The Spanish government declared a state of emergency earlier this month, which effectively locked down the country and confined residents to their homes in a bid to slow the virus’ spread.
Spain’s interior minister revealed Tuesday that police have arrested at least 929 people for disobeying the declaration.
A poster reading in Spanish the hashtag “#IstayAtHome” hangs in windowshop of a closed shop in downtown Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. More than 1.5 billion around the world have been told to stay in their homes.
Fernando Grande-Marlaska told reporters at a news conference that more than 130 of the arrests happened that day alone, El Pais reported.
Meanwhile, prosecutors announced this week they were investigating claims that bodies of elderly people were found abandoned inside senior residence homes.
Spain’s prime minister is said to be asking the country’s parliament to extend the state of emergency to April 11.
Graham Keeley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.