‘We are at war’ says Spain

People wearing protective face masks are seen in an almost empty Puerta del Sol in Madrid
People wearing protective face masks are seen in an almost empty Puerta del Sol during a partial lockdown, which is a part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid, Spain, March 21, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

The Spanish government sought to extend until April 11 a state of emergency that it has imposed to try to control Europe’s second-worst outbreak of coronavirus while some regions on Sunday asked for harsher confinement measures to combat the pandemic.

Spain’s death toll jumped to over 1,700, with more than 28,000 cases of infection.

“We are at war,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told a news briefing, calling on Europe to launch a massive, coordinated public investment programme like the post World War Two Marshall Plan.

The nationwide state of emergency announced on March 14 and intended to last 15 days, bars people from all but essential outings.

Sanchez said he hoped all parties would support the extension. It would be the first time in Spain’s four-decade democracy that a state of emergency would be prolonged.

Parliament has a scheduled plenary session on Wednesday.

The death toll from coronavirus rose to 1,720 on Sunday from 1,326 the day before, while the number of registered cases rose to 28,572 from 24,926, according to Health Ministry’s data.

Of those, 54% are hospitalised and 12% are health staff, a figure officials described as worrisome given that they are at the frontline of the virus’ response. Of the total number of cases, 2,575 people have been cured.

Officials cautiously highlighted that the number of new daily registered cases had dropped by 26% from Saturday to Sunday.

The death rate from the illness is around 6% in Spain, said Simon, but he suggested the rate is actually lower because the number of cases of infection is in fact likely higher than those recorded.

Authorities aim to have a more realistic picture in the coming days as they start distributing hundreds of thousands of fast testing devices. Priority for those tests will be given to the regions most hit by the pandemic, hospitals and health personnel, Simon added.

If you want to be the first to receive the latest news on the coronavirus in Malta, download the Newsbook APP here.