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Spanish coronavirus cases surge by 5,000 overnight

The country is now third on the list of those worst hit by Covid-19.

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Members of the Military Emergency Unit disinfect the Madrid subway (Manu Fernandez/AP)

Members of the Military Emergency Unit disinfect the Madrid subway (Manu Fernandez/AP)

Members of the Military Emergency Unit disinfect the Madrid subway (Manu Fernandez/AP)

Spain has recorded almost 5,000 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours as it became the third most infected country in the world.

Health authorities said on Saturday that virus infections have reached 24,926, up from 19,980 the day before.

Total deaths are at 1,326, up from 1,002 on Friday.

Madrid Royal Palace
A man wearing a face mask walks with his dog in the deserted square in front of the Royal Palace in Madrid (Manu Fernandez/AP)

More than 1,600 patients are in intensive care units that authorities admit are at their limits. Madrid is the hardest hit region with almost 9,000 infections.

Spain is approaching one week of tight restrictions on free moment and the closure of most shops as hospitals and nursing homes buckle under the burden of the virus outbreak.

But authorities admit they expect infections to continue to rise before the measures can hopefully reverse the trend.

Only Italy and China – where the outbreak started – have seen more cases so far.

Rome shoppers
People wait at markers to keep them a safe distance from other shoppers in Rome (Andrew Medichini/AP)

In Italy, the health minister has urged people to follow the rules regarding lockdown.

Roberto Speranza voiced concern that too many citizens are flouting restrictions imposed nearly two weeks ago to contain the country’s relentless increase in coronavirus cases.

He warned that until the virus is defeated, Italy’s economy – nearly stagnant for years before the outbreak – will not get going again.

After local officials clamoured for days for stronger measures, Mr Speranza on Friday night ordered the closures of all parks and playgrounds and banned people from travelling to weekend homes from Friday until Monday.

In Germany, the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg is opening its hospitals to patients from the neighbouring region of eastern France that is struggling with a surge of infections.

A spokesman for the state’s health ministry confirmed governor Winfried Kretschmann has offered assistance to France amid a growing shortage of ICU beds there.

Authorities have asked all hospitals in Baden-Wuerttemberg with free capacity to take in French patients requiring ventilators.

The spokesman said that while the state’s own capacity is limited and there are already some bottlenecks, “we will naturally try to help our French neighbours”.

Germany is estimated to currently have more than 20,000 cases of the virus, with 70 deaths.

PA