Spain distributes 650,000 testing kits amidst rising coronavirus deaths
London, March 23, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Spain has experienced a further steep rise in the number of coronavirus deaths and cases, as health authorities set about distributing almost 650,000 rapid testing kits.
The virus has now claimed 2,182 lives in the country – up from 1,720 on Sunday – while the number of confirmed cases increased from 28,572 to 33,089.
The increase came as the US scrambled to tackle the coronavirus pandemic amid blunt warnings that time and resources are running out, with the number of confirmed cases in the country rising above 35,000.
In Spain, testing kits are being issued for frontline hospital staff , older people in care homes, and those in regions most affected by the virus. Around 12% of all those diagnosed with the coronavirus – some 3,910 people – are health workers, the government said on Monday morning.
The Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has called on the EU to instigate a “Marshall plan” to counter the economic effects of the crisis, and announced that the country’s state of emergency would be extended until 11 April.
Sánchez’s vice-president, Carmen Calvo, was admitted to hospital for treatment for a respiratory infection, Spanish media reported. Two cabinet ministers and the prime minister’s wife, Begoña Gómez, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Authorities in Madrid, where almost a third of the country’s cases have been reported, have set up a huge field hospital inside the capital’s main conference centre. The facility at the Ifema centre, which took in its first patients over the weekend, could accommodate 5,500 people.
The country has been in lockdown since 14 March, with people allowed out only to buy food or medicine or to seek medical help or travel to and from work.
Fernando Simón, the head of Spain’s centre for health emergencies, said that talk of the contagion peaking this week could not allow people to become complacent.
“These are going to be crucial days because reaching a peak doesn’t mean things have been solved; it means we have to redouble our efforts to guarantee we don’t take a step backwards,” he said.