MADRID: Spain struggled to cope on Wednesday with a mounting coronavirus crisis as its death toll exceeded China’s with another 738 lives lost in a single day.
With 3,434 fatalities, Spain now has the second-highest number of deaths globally after Italy’s 6,820. Nursing homes across the country have been overwhelmed and a skating rink in Madrid has been turned into a makeshift morgue.
Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo became the third cabinet member to test positive for the virus, but the government said she was doing well.
Parliament sat late into the night for a session aimed at approving extending to 30 days a 15-day state of emergency which has shuttered schools, restaurants and most shops.
People have been largely confined to their homes since the lockdown began on March 14.
“We have achieved a near total reduction in social contact,” health emergency chief Fernando Simon told a news conference, adding that Spain was nearing the peak of the epidemic.
Reuters reported that the diagnoses increased by a fifth to 47,610 on Wednesday but the total could be higher as 137,000 workers are known to have taken sick leave associated with the virus, including to go into preventative isolation.