(Update 1: Adds quotes from ministerial presser, additional info)
Madrid, Apr 17 (efe-epa).- Spanish health authorities registered a jump in the number of daily coronavirus fatalities on Friday but a change in the way regional data was collected led to confusion over the figures.
Fernando Simón, head of Spain’s emergency public health department, said 585 people had died in the last 24 hours, up from the 551 the previous day.
The figure brought the overall death toll to 19,478 with a fatality rate of 10.5 per cent.
But the number does not match the difference in the overall death toll reported by the health ministry between Thursday and Friday.
Simón said the government was in the process of trying to iron out regional discrepancies in coronavirus information.
The health ministry later said the discrepancy had resulted from conflicting figures arriving from Catalonia.
Health minister Salvador Illa told a press conference: “With regards to the data, there was an incident with the information in Catalonia.
“We have received data both from a healthcare level and a public administration on, we’ve decided to go for the more rigorous source.”
Simón said the figures will be prone to fluctuations in the coming days due to the changes.
The health ministry has asked each of Spain’s 17 regions to report back on the same criteria every day.
From Friday, they will be expected to provide data not just on the number of new infections, deaths, hospitalisations and hospital discharges but also the number of tests, including rapid-tests and antibody tests, they have carried out.
They must also state how many of the new infections were asymptomatic carriers.
The health ministry said 5,252 people had tested positive for Covid-19 between Thursday and Friday, bringing the overall tally in Spain, one of the world’s worst-hit countries, to 188,069.
Simón warned that the number of infections would likely increase as Spain tries to boost the number of daily tests.
Regional health authorities will also be expected to provide data on anyone who died after taking a test, whether in a clinical setting or at home.
Illa said the changes were necessary to confirm when the country’s pandemic begins to decrease.
Employment minister Yolanda Díaz said the government would look to resume work life in the country in two stages, first with productive sectors by the summer with an eye to kick-starting other sectors like tourism by the end of the year.
Spain’s economy, which went through a two-week period of “hibernation” at the beginning of April, is set to enter a recession once the health crisis is over, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has begun talks with other political leaders in search of a national pact to plot the country’s roadmap out of the crisis. EFE-EPA