CORONAVIRUS

Spain’s coronavirus victims rise by 514 in a day, with 2,700 dead and nearly 40,000 infections

“This is the tough week, when we are all waiting to see if the measures we have adopted will take effect,” says health chief

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts.
Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts.JM Cuadrado / EFE

The death toll in Spain from the coronavirus pandemic has risen to 2,696 people, with 514 new victims in just the last 24 hours – a 24% day-on-day increase. That’s according to the latest figures supplied at midday on Tuesday by the Health Ministry. The number of infections is now nearing 40,000, an increase of 20% in the last 24 hours.

Nearly 3,800 people have recovered from the Covid-19 disease and have been discharged from hospital, while there are still 2,636 people being treated in intensive care, the government reported on Tuesday. Catalonia and Madrid are still showing the largest number of new cases.

Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, also announced on Tuesday that more than 5,000 of Spain’s health workers have been infected with the coronavirus.

“The increase in daily cases continues to progress,” Simón explained. “But they have an important delay, of seven to 10 days between the detection of symptoms and the notification of a case. This is the tough week, when we are all waiting to see if the measures we have adopted will take effect,” he said in reference to the state of the alarm that has placed the country on lockdown.

More than 5,000 of Spain’s health workers have been infected with the coronavirus

Speaking at the same press conference, Miguel Ángel Villarroya, the defense chief of staff, said that the military was due to carry out “disinfections in 135 areas, and in 92 senior homes, and we can’t rule out that this number will increase over the day. We will also offer support for the transfer of patients and with air transport of medical materials.” He added that members of the military were also still working at the IFEMA convention center in Madrid at the makeshift homeless shelter that has been set up there. The buildings at IFEMA are also being used to house a field hospital that will be able to hold up to 5,500 patients if needed.

Villarroya added that in Barcelona, the military was also offering support for a homeless shelter at the Feria de Barcelona convention center, and that they were taking part in “permanent operations to offer a protection service for the population.”

The joint operational director of the National Police, José Ángel González, explained on Tuesday that 61 people had been arrested over the last hours and that 6,000 reports had been filed for disobedience. The police chief also explained that officers were working to protect “the most vulnerable collectives, such as victims of domestic violence.”

González added that there are still reports of “irresponsible people,” such as patients who have left hospital before being properly discharged. He also warned of “cybercriminals who could take advantage of the pandemic with malicious programs that can steal people’s personal information.”

José Manuel Santiago, the chief of staff of the Civil Guard, said that his officers reported that essential services were working well. “Since March 19, there have been more than 3,000 reports a day of people acting irresponsibly. Yesterday there were 19 arrests. There is behavior that lacks solidarity.”

Santiago also appealed to young people, who, he said, “have to make a greater effort to stay at home.” “I want to tell them that soon they will be able to spend [time] once more with their friends,” he said. “This week is going to be difficult, but we have to continue.”

The general secretary for transport, María José Rallo del Olmo, said that air travel continues to fall. “Yesterday it was 90% down on a similar day for the year.” She also reported that Cercanías trains would have to run 80% of services at rush hour and 50% at other times.

Madrid’s Gay Pride parade postponed

Organizers of the Gay Pride parade in Madrid announced on Tuesday that the annual event will be postponed until the “health and safety conditions are suitable.” In a press release, the organizers said that their priority was protecting “people’s health and security.”

The Gay Pride parade has been celebrated in the Spanish capital every year on the first weekend of July since 1978. The event brings together nearly one million people, according to figures from the organizers, and generates more than €100 million for the Madrid region, according to regional authorities.

Protective material

The lack of protective materials such as masks and other basic items in the health system is causing tensions between Spain’s regional governments and the central government in Madrid. A number of regions are accusing the government of stopping their attempts to import the material.

But the health minister, Salvador Illa, denied this and said that the government is only fighting “against people who want to speculate with these products.” Madrid, Andalusia, Galicia and Catalonia are claiming that the central government has seized or stopped the supply of protection materials at customs points. Illa said that it is “completely untrue” that the government is stopping these deliveries.

Measures for business

The Spanish Cabinet, which is due to hold its weekly meeting today, is likely to set the level of guarantees the state will be offering to banks who finance the self-employed, small and medium companies, and large firms.

In the Basque Country, the regional government on Tuesday approved an €841 million relief package to address the coronavirus crisis. Of this amount, €586 million will go towards supporting the self-employed, small and medium companies, €200 million to strengthening the healthcare system, and €55 million to helping families and disadvantaged communities.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, announced on Tuesday that local police officers would be fining drivers and pedestrians who are traveling through the Spanish capital without a document that confirms that they have to be physically present in their place of work.

In Andalusia, the regional government is considering converting the exhibition centers in the cities of Málaga and Seville into “large hospitals” if necessary, in a bid to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, as has already been done in Madrid at the IFEMA exhibition center.

In Catalonia, the Barcelona Hotel Association announced on Tuesday that four more hotels will be made available for families with mild coronavirus symptoms, whose homes do not allow them to remain isolated.

Lockdown disobedience

The National Police arrested a 31-year-old man on Tuesday for allegedly causing physical harm to his 29-year-old housemate during a fight over the lockdown rules. The victim allegedly tried to stop the man and his partner, who had a cough, from leaving the apartment due to the state of alarm, and the fact the woman was presenting symptoms.

Meanwhile in the Spanish exclave city of Ceuta in North Africa, the regional government will file a report with the National Police against a young student who tested positive for the coronavirus last weekend, and was subsequently seen on the streets in defiance of the isolation orders.

With reporting by Mikel Ormazabal, Clara Blanchar, Sonia Vizoso and Ignacio Zafra.

English version by Simon Hunter and Melissa Kitson.