CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus deaths in Spain double in a day to reach 288, with more than 7,750 infections

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez holds video conference call with regional premiers, after state of alarm gives central government powers across the entire Spanish territory

Pedro Sánchez speaks to Spain’s regional leaders on Sunday.
Pedro Sánchez speaks to Spain’s regional leaders on Sunday.

The latest official statistics from the Spanish health authorities, which were released around 2pm on Sunday, put the number of deaths from the coronavirus outbreak at 288, double the count the day before, with more than 7,750 people infected. There have been 517 patients who have recovered and been discharged from hospital so far, and 382 patients who are currently in intensive care.

The Madrid region continues to have the highest number of infections, with the latest figures at 3,544. Catalonia is next, with 715, and then the Basque Country, with 630.

After his Cabinet approved a state of alarm in Spain last night, which has essentially locked down the entire country, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Sunday held a video conference call with the country’s regional leaders, in a bid to tackle the effect of the global pandemic in Spain.

Separatist leaders complained to the prime minister of the “invasion” and “confiscation” of their powers

Late last night it emerged that Sánchez’s wife, Begoña Gómez, tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Both Gómez and her husband are adopting the measures established by the health authorities.

According to sources with knowledge of the conversation on Sunday, the regional premiers across Spain closed ranks with the prime minister, after the state of alarm gave the central government “powers across the entire Spanish territory.”

There were, however, complaints from the regional premier of Catalonia, Quim Torra, a hardline separatist who wants to see independence for the northeastern Spanish region. This was echoed by the Basque premier, Iñigo Urkullo, who heads another region that has long sought independence from Spain. The leaders complained of the “invasion” and “confiscation” of their powers.

But other regional premiers played down the importance of the comments, and reported that the tone of the meeting was appropriate. “We are going to be by your side,” said the Catalan regional premier to the prime minister after expressing his discrepancies.

On Sunday, the Spanish government launched a campaign calling on members of the public to help stop the virus. Using the hashtag #EsteVirusLoParamosUnidos (We will stop this virus together), the government said it was seeking to appeal to a sense of “common responsibility,” stating that citizens were “the principal driver of national hope in the fight against the virus.”

In Valencia, local police were using megaphones to request that people left public spaces and returned to their homes

Around Spain, police officers on Sunday began to warn members of the public that they could not be in the streets under the conditions of the state of alarm. Members of the public can only venture out of their houses alone, and only under specific circumstances, such as to buy foodstuffs or pharmaceutical supplies. In Valencia, for example, local police were using megaphones to request that people left public spaces and returned to their homes. If they fail to observe the measures, they could face fines or even a prison sentence.


City Hall in the southern Spanish city of Seville announced on Sunday that it would be suspending its Feria de Abril 2020, “given the importance of adopting all of the necessary measures to contribute to the fight against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic [...].” The cancelation comes on the back of the decision taken yesterday to also cancel the Easter processions in Seville, and in many other cities across the country. Both the Feria de Abril and the Easter processions are massive tourist attractions for Seville, and the cancelation of both will have huge repercussions in terms of the local economy.

State rail operator Renfe announced on Sunday that it was delaying the launch of its new low-cost AVE rail service, which was due to start operating between Madrid and Barcelona on April 6.

English version by Simon Hunter.