Spain records deadliest day yet but rate of new coronavirus cases slows

Spain records deadliest day yet but rate of new coronavirus cases slows
Members of the Military Emergencies Unit (UME) use a lift as they carry out a general disinfection at the Sant Antoni extended care facility in Barcelona. Photo: AFP
Spain set another record in the number of coronavirus deaths on Wednesday with 864 confirmed fatalities in the previous 24 hours. However the rate of new coronavirus infections continued to slow.

The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged over 9,000 on Wednesday after a record 864 deaths in 24 hours, with the number of confirmed cases passing the 100,000 mark, the government said.

The number of dead reported to have died from coronavirus within 24 hours on Wednesday beat the previous record of 849 that was reported on Tuesday.

Experts claim Spain is close to hitting its peak and authorities expect to see a drop in the number of cases if lockdown, which is now in the third week in Spain, has been effective.

Spain has the world's second-highest death toll after Italy, with the virus so far claiming 9,053 lives and the number of confirmed cases reaching 102,136, although the rate of new infections continued its downward trend, health ministry figures showed.

In total  5,872 coronavirus patients are being treated in Intensive Care Units (ICU) across Spain.

But in good news, the number of those who have recovered from the virus has risen to 22,647 across the whole of Spain, including a 101-year-old woman in Aragon, who was discharged after spending two weeks in hospital in Huesca.

On a day-to-day basis, the rate of new infections continued its downward trend, showing an increase of just over 8.0 percent, compared with nearly 11 percent on Tuesday, health ministry figures showed.

This compared to the data between March 15th and 25th – the period immediately after the lockdown was put in place – when new cases were growing at a rate of 20 percent a day.

And the death rate has also slowed, from 27 percent a week ago to 10.5 percent on Wednesday, with officials saying the data appear to show the epidemic is reaching its peak.

Health officials believe the figures show a “trend change” that is positive.

María José Sierra of Spain’s centre for health emergencies, who has stepped in to lead the daily press conferences since Fernando Simón tested positive to the coronavirus, said the latest figures showed that the situation was continuing to level out.

“Generally speaking, we can say that yesterday’s rise in cases – which was around 8 percent – tells us that we’re carrying on in the stabilisation phase of the pandemic,” she said on Wednesday morning.

“The figures when it comes to both the number of people in ICUs and the number of people who have died are really telling us what happened two or three weeks ago, when people became infected,” she added.

But officials have warned that even if the epidemic is peaking, the pressure on the intensive care system would be subject to a lag of at least a week or longer, with hospitals likely to reach crisis point by the end of this week or early next.

Madrid remains the worst-hit region, with 3,865 deaths and nearly 30,000 cases, leaving hospitals and mortuaries overwhelmed.

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