The Spanish Health Ministry announced on Saturday that a total of 809 people in the country had died from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, a significant drop on the 932 fatalities recorded on Friday, and the lowest number of daily deaths seen in seven days.
The news came shortly before the Spanish government announced that it wanted to extend the state of alarm, which was declared three weeks ago in a bid to slow the coronavirus outbreak, until April 26.
The total number of coronavirus deaths in Spain now stands at 11,744. Registered infections have risen by 7,027 to 124,736. This represents a day-on-day increase of 5.9%, the lowest figure registered in Spain in at least three weeks. The number of patients in intensive care has increased to 6,532, a daily rise of 1.8% that is also the lowest recorded in this period.
The number of new patients admitted to hospital has also fallen. On Saturday, a total of 57,612 patients required hospitalization, up 975 from Friday. On Thursday, that figure was 2,524. Meanwhile, 34,219 patients have recovered from the Covid-19 disease and have been discharged from hospital.
Speaking at the daily government press conference about the coronavirus crisis on Friday, María José Sierra, from the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, said that the lockdown measures were starting to have an effect.
“For weeks, the entire population has been following the recommendations [...] That is why now we are seeing the effect on the number of hospital admissions,” she said. “We are seeing a ray of hope but we have to be very aware that we are seeing this improvement because the health system has doubled its efforts.”
José Sierra also warned that the real number of coronavirus infections could be higher. “We are aware that there are many mild cases that are not in the figures we are reporting. There are studies with estimation and 15% [of the population could be infected] in the case of Spain,” she said.
Coronavirus deaths in prisons
Spain’s prison authority confirmed on Friday that a prisoner and a staff member had died from Covid-19. A total of 147 people in Spain’s prisons – 13 inmates and 134 workers – have contracted the disease since the outbreak began. On March 15, all family visits and leave permits were suspended in an effort to control the spread of the disease. Despite this, there has been a steady increase in cases. On March 27, authorities reported that a 78-year-old prisoner had died, and that six prisoners and 65 staff members had contracted the virus. On Friday, the death toll rose to two after a prison worker from Alicante died on March 29, while infections jumped to 147.
“The staff members live outside the prison and have practically the same rate of infection as the rest of the population. For prisoners, however, the confinement measures have worked,” said Enrique Acón, the head of the prison authority’s health department.
But unions argue that prison workers have not been given enough personal protective equipment or been tested for the disease even though, like inmates, they are considered a “high-risk group.” Spain’s Interior Ministry maintains that it recently provided 145,000 face masks.
Civil Guard reports fifth officer death
On Saturday, the Civil Guard reported that one of their officers had died from the coronavirus. Since the outbreak began, five Civil Guard officers, two National Police officers, one member of the Catalan regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, and a Madrid local police officer have died from the disease.
With reporting by Óscar López-Fonseca and Pablo Linde.
English version by Melissa Kitson.