The Malta Independent 8 April 2020, Wednesday

Sharp increase in Coronavirus cases, deaths in Italy, Spain

Associated Press Tuesday, 24 March 2020, 20:10 Last update: about 14 days ago

Three weeks into national lockdown, Italy’s daily bulletin about its COVID-19 outbreak added thousands more cases, pushing the nation’s overall total to more than 69,000.

Civil Protection authorities say there were 743 more deaths of infected persons in a 24-hour period, adding to Italy’s overall death toll that is the world’s highest. After two straight days of day-to-day increases in new cases that had seen lower numbers, authorities on Tuesday said there were 5,249 new cases.

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A day earlier, new cases in a 24-hour period had totaled some 460 fewer. For two days running, the percentage of day-to-day increase in case load stands at 8%. Health authorities have cautioned that it's too soon to say if Italy is about to see a peak in the outbreak. The country now has at least 6,820 deaths.

Spain announced a record one-day jump of nearly 6,600 new coronavirus infections, bringing the overall total to more than 39,600. The number of deaths also leaped by a record 514 to almost 2,700, second only to Italy and China.

As bodies piled up, Madrid took over a public skating rink as a makeshift morgue after the city facility overflowed. To date, 1,535 people have died in the hard-hit Spanish capital, more than half of the national total. The capital region has over 12,350 infections.

“This is a tough week,” Dr. Fernando Simón, head of Spain's health emergency center, told a daily news briefing.

Relatives of elderly people and retirement homes’ workers expressed growing concern about the situation at the centers.

"With everything that is happening with the coronavirus, this was a ticking bomb,” said Esther Navarro, whose 97-year-old Alzheimer's-stricken mother lives at the Usera Seniors' Center in Madrid, where soldiers found some of the bodies.

“Now we are bracing ourselves for the worst possible outcome,” she told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.

 

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