Spain becomes 4th Covid-19 global hotspot with 25 percent spike in cases

Madrid, Mar 16 (efe-epa).- Spain has registered a 25 percent increase in coronavirus cases with almost 9,000 infections, making it the fourth-most affected country in the world.

According to the latest data released Monday, the first workday under strict quarantine rules adopted to contain the spread of the virus, 8,744 had contracted Covid-19 and 297 had died from it as of the previous evening.

The figures mean Spain leapfrogs South Korea in terms of confirmed cases and death toll, which is four times that of the Asian nation. Authorities in South Korea have been praised for the way they have tackled the outbreak.

More than half of the confirmed cases in Spain are in the capital region of Madrid, which also has the highest number of deaths related to Covid-19.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a nationwide state of alarm on Saturday, granting the government more powers to control the movement of citizens.

The country’s 47 million inhabitants were ordered to stay at home and are only allowed to leave to go to work, to buy medical products and food, to visit medical centers or to care for dependent family members.

People who do leave their houses must be unaccompanied.

Companies have allowed their employees to work remotely where possible and only supermarkets, pharmacies and other shops selling items of primary necessity are open.

Members of the military were deployed Sunday to help out with disinfection efforts and uphold the quarantine rules ordered by the government.

The extraordinary decree is in force for the next 15 days but Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos on Monday told Spanish radio that it would likely be extended.

“I don’t think we’ll win the battle in 15 days,” he said.

Abalos highlighted the fact Spain had urged the European Union to adopt coordinated measures in the fight to contain the virus. EU leaders are due to speak via videolink on Tuesday.

In Spain, land, maritime and air transport has been reduced by 85 percent.

The government has requisitioned some private hospitals and has told private companies producing medical stock such as masks, respirators and gloves that they have 48 hours to put themselves at the disposition of state officials.

As of Sunday, 30,000 Covid-19 tests had been conducted, but Health Minister Salvador Illa said a more efficient system was needed. EFE-EPA


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