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Death toll in Spain passes China as coronavirus ravages Europe

Italy still has the most deaths of any nation in the world with 6,820.

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A patient, center, is transferred to a medicalised hotel during the COVID-19 outbreak in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. 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)

A patient, center, is transferred to a medicalised hotel during the COVID-19 outbreak in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. 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)

A patient, center, is transferred to a medicalised hotel during the COVID-19 outbreak in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. 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)

The coronavirus death toll in Spain has shot up by more than 700, surpassing China and making the country second only to Italy as the pandemic spread rapidly in Europe.

Spain recorded a record daily increase of 738 deaths, pushing it to 3,434 overall and past China’s 3,285, the Ministry of Health said.

The country’s infections rose by 20% to 47,610, and more than 5,000 have recovered.

HEALTH Coronavirus
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Spain’s health system is overwhelmed, with hotels being converted into hospitals and a Madrid ice rink being used as a temporary morgue.

Legislators are set to extend the country’s lockdown for two more weeks, to April 12.

Fernando Simon, head of Spain’s health emergency co-ordination centre, said he hoped the numbers would peak soon.

“If we are not already at the peak, we are very close,” he said. “I cannot say that we have reached it.”

Even once the numbers crest, it would be “counterproductive” to think about relaxing restrictions soon, he added.

HEALTH Coronavirus
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Spain’s nursing home system has been hit particularly hard. Prosecutors are investigating several homes after troops disinfecting them discovered elderly people living among suspected coronavirus victims who had died.

Media reported that 23 residents of a Madrid retirement home had died from Covid-19 or symptoms related to the new virus, news reports said. The residence released a statement saying it had been pleading for more staff and supplies, including virus tests, after 55 of its workers had been forced to take medical leave.

National police also arrested two people in southern Spain for throwing stones and other debris at a convoy of ambulances and police vehicles as 28 elderly people were being transferred from a nursing home with a high number of infections to another facility in their town.

Italy has been the hardest-hit nation in Europe with more than 69,000 infections and 6,800 deaths.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

Germany’s parliament is set to approve a series of measures that will allow the government to offer aid totalling more than a trillion euros (£900 billion) for the country of 83 million people.

Health minister Jens Spahn said Germany has about 1,000 Covid-19 patients in intensive care and its health system can cope with the numbers for now.

Germany has the fifth-largest number of infections in the world – well over 30,000 – but officials say relatively wide testing has picked up a lot of mild cases, and the death rate has been low compared with southern Europe.

Germany has 172 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 428,000 people worldwide have been infected by the virus and more than 19,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Overall, more than 109,000 have recovered.

PA