Spain records 10,000 deaths from coronavirus but says peak is passed

Futher 950 people die in 24 hours as relieving healthcare services becomes major concern

Deaths caused by coronavirus have hit a new daily record in Spain, taking the total number of victims in the country to 10,003, a fifth of the total across the world.

A total of 950 people died from the virus over the previous 24 hours, according to figures released by the government on Thursday. That compared to 864 deaths registered on Wednesday and was the sixth day in a row that the daily death toll has surpassed 800.

The number of registered infections has now climbed to just over 110,000, meaning Spain has more cases than any country apart from Italy and the United States.

However, the Spanish government insists that the virus’s trajectory is now flattening out.


"When talking about deaths there is no good news, but allow me to express a small amount of hope," the health minister, Salvador Illa, told a parliamentary health committee. "The data shows that the curve has stabilised, that we have achieved the first objective, which is to reach the peak of the curve and we are now beginning the easing-off phase."

The government points to the fact that although the numbers of new infections and deaths continue to rise, they are doing so more slowly than earlier in the crisis. Also, about 27,000 of the total cases Spain has registered have been given the all-clear.

The country has been in lockdown since mid-March under a state of emergency declared by the government of Pedro Sánchez. Restriction of movement was tightened further at the beginning of this week, as all non-essential workers were prohibited from leaving their homes.


The government says that the priority now is to relieve the strain the virus is putting on healthcare services. Intensive care units, in which more than 6,000 people are being treated, are a particular worry.

“Now our focus is on hospitalisations and ICUs,” said Fernando Simón, Spain’s head of medical emergencies. “The objective of the latest restrictions is to ensure that in the coming days, at the beginning of next week, we don’t see ICUs being so overwhelmed that they can’t treat all patients properly.”

Health workers make up about 15 per cent of those infected and there has been a shortage of medical equipment in many parts of the country. On Thursday, 12 tons of medical protective equipment arrived in Barcelona, one of many shipments to the country from China.

Madrid, which has been the epicentre of the virus in Spain, remains the region hardest hit, followed by Catalonia, Castilla La Mancha and Castilla y León.

The economic impact of coronavirus has also started to become apparent. Social security figures showed that nearly 900,000 jobs were lost in the second half of March, the worst figure on record. Another 620,000 workers have been laid off temporarily due to the virus and lockdown.

The Spanish labour market traditionally relies heavily on temporary jobs, particularly as the tourist market picks up in the spring.

Unai Sordo, chairman of the CCOO labour union, said that “it is clear that these figures are unprecedented in our history, and are part of a situation that is also unprecedented”.

Guy Hedgecoe

Guy Hedgecoe

Guy Hedgecoe is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Spain