Spain recorded a massive spike in coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours and the country’s death toll has now surpassed that of China.
Spain’s health officials announced the grim statistics on Wednesday morning, confirming that 738 people have died in the previous 24 hours, a massive 43% day-over-day increase. There were 514 deaths reported on Tuesday.
Spain’s death toll now stands at 3,434 which is above the 3,283 deaths reported in China, where the pandemic originated. Spain is now the second worst-hit country in terms of deaths, behind Italy, which has reported over 6,800 COVID-19 deaths so far.
The Spanish government enacted a nationwide lockdown 11 days ago, but the virus continues to spread rapidly, with almost 8,000 new infections reported on Wednesday morning. The total number of confirmed cases is now 47,610.
There are now more than 3,100 people in intensive care units, an increase of 20% from the previous day.
The government is hoping that the effects of its quarantine measures will be felt by the end of the week, and on Wednesday, Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, told reporters that Spain may be reaching the peak of the outbreak.
“We are very close to that peak, although I dare not say if we have arrived,” Simón said according to El País. “But the trends we are observing indicate that we are approaching.”
The country has taken extraordinary measures to try to cope with the influx of cases, particularly in the capital Madrid where over half of all deaths have been recorded. Authorities have turned a giant ice rink inside a shopping mall into a temporary morgue and converted a huge convention center into a 5,000-bed field hospital.
But the outbreak has put unprecedented pressure on the health care system, which lacks the necessary protective equipment for front line staff. Over 5,400 health care workers have been infected, and those on the front lines say the government has not done enough to provide them with sufficient masks, visors and impenetrable gowns.
On Monday, the defense ministry confirmed that some Spanish soldiers had found residents of a nursing home abandoned while others were “dead in their beds.”
The government has asked NATO to send urgent medical supplies, and on Sunday Spain’s prime minister extended the state of emergency for another 15 days, keeping people in lockdown until April 11.
Cover: A member of the legion wearing a face mask as a preventive measure, during the covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Carlos Gil / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)