Daily coronavirus fatalities rise for second day in a row in Spain, to 757

The increases come after several falls earlier in the week. The total number of official deaths now stands at 14,555, with 146,690 confirmed infections

A patient is moved into an ambulance at the Severo Ochoa hospital in Leganes.
A patient is moved into an ambulance at the Severo Ochoa hospital in Leganes.Bernat Armangue (AP)
El País

The number of daily coronavirus deaths in Spain was 757 on Wednesday, according to official figures released by the Health Ministry. This represents a small rise over Tuesday, which also saw a slight spike in overnight fatalities, to 743.

The upward trend breaks with a series of daily drops that began on Saturday and fed hopes that Spain’s strict lockdown measures were beginning to curb the effect of the coronavirus.

There were 637 coronavirus deaths reported on Monday, the lowest daily death toll seen in the country since March 24, when there were 514. The drop followed a downward trend that began on Saturday, when daily deaths fell to 809. The figure fell again on Sunday to 674. The peak of fatalities was registered on April 2, with 950.

The ministry also reported on Wednesday that 48,021 patients have recovered from the disease and have been discharged from hospital. This figure represents 32.7% of total registered infections. The day-on-day rise for this figure was 4,813 on Wednesday, the highest since the epidemic began and nearly double Tuesday’s total.

According to Wednesday’s figures, 14,555 people have died from the Covid-19 disease in Spain since the beginning of the pandemic. There is mounting data, however, such as the number of burials, suggesting that the real death toll is much higher.

On Monday, in most regions, non-essential workers will return to work, apart from those who can work from home
María Jesús Montero, government spokesperson

As one of the world’s hardest-hit countries, Spain has already surpassed Italy in terms of the number of deaths as a proportion of the population.

The number of infections has also risen day-on-day, according to Wednesday’s figures, both in relative and absolute terms. There were 6,180 new infections reported today, a rise of 4.4% compared to 4% on Tuesday. The total number of confirmed cases in the country stands at 146,690.

Authorities are now placing their hopes on the improving indicators coming out of the emergency rooms, where there has been a drop in the number of admitted patients.

However, for the first time today, the Health Ministry did not include the number of patients in intensive care units (ICUs). The reason for this is that Spain’s regions, which each have their own health systems, have been calculating this figure differently. Some were reporting the accumulated number of ICU patients since the start of the crisis, while others supplied the daily number, subtracting discharged patients and fatalities.

As a result, officials will no longer be publishing the total until the administrations are all using the same methodology. The number of hospitalizations was also omitted today for the same reason.

Mass testing

The Health Ministry has announced that it is going to carry out a mass testing campaign in order to get a more realistic picture of the spread of the coronavirus in the hopes that it will help combat the epidemic.

The government is also preparing infrastructure that could temporarily house asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus who work in essential services, such as healthcare employees, workers in senior residences, police and delivery workers.

“Hibernation ending”

Speaking on Spanish TV channel Antena 3, Finance Minister and government spokesperson María Jesús Montero discussed on Wednesday morning the relaxation of confinement measures. “The hibernation of the economy ends next week,” she said, in reference to the lifting of mandatory paid leave for all non-essential employees who are unable to work from home.

The restriction was introduced last Monday and will officially end this week, coinciding with national holidays in most of Spain on Thursday and Friday for Easter week.

“Thanks to this measure, we have managed to reduce mobility,“ she added. “On Monday, in most regions, non-essential workers will return to work, apart from those who can work from home."

She added that there is no guarantee that confinement restrictions under the current state of alarm can be lifted when they expire toward the end of the month. “We can’t take anything for granted right now, apart from the extension [of the state of alarm] until April 26,” she said. “I want to express my thanks to the entire population, which is allowing for many lives to be saved. From April 26, we will see how the deescalation can take place, but it will be in a very controlled way.”

EU response

In the same interview, Montero reacted to an EU meeting of finance ministers that failed to come up with a coordinated economic response to the coronavirus crisis.

“We need help from other countries, that’s what Europe was built for,” the government spokesperson and finance minister said. Spain and Italy have been pushing for an EU joint debt issuance program dubbed “eurobonds” or “coronabonds,” but countries such as the Netherlands and Germany are opposed to the idea.

“The Netherlands was and remains against the idea of Eurobonds, we think this will create more problems than solutions for the EU. We would have to guarantee debts of other countries which isn’t reasonable. The majority of the Eurogroup shares this view and does not support Eurobonds,” tweeted the Dutch finance minister, Wopke Hoekstra.

Death of doctor

A family doctor from Alcázar de San Juan, in the Castilla-La Mancha region, died on Tuesday from the Covid-19 disease. Jesús Montarroso Martín, 64, has become the fifth doctor to die from the disease in Spain since the epidemic began.

English version by Susana Urra and Simon Hunter.

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