Spain has become the third country to surpass China in coronavirus infections after the United States and Italy. With a population of 47 million, the country’s tally of infections reached 85,195 on Monday, a rise of 8% from a previous day.
Monday also sees 812 fatalities, for a total of 7,300 since the outbreak started in earnest in early March, Spain’s Health Ministry says in a statement.
In Madrid, where nearly half of the total deaths have been recorded, flags are hoisted at half-mast as authorities declare an official mourning, with a minute of silence expected at noon time.
Authorities also step up the country’s half-a-month lockdown on Monday, beginning with a new two-week period of “hibernation,” as described by a Spanish Cabinet member in order to alleviate the pressure of the illness in the country’s health system.
Only workers in hospitals, pharmacies, the food supply chain and other essential industries are required to work until the end of Easter, in mid-April, while the rest have been asked to scale back operations to weekend-level.
At least six of Spain’s 17 regions are at their limit of ICU beds and three more were close to it, authorities said, while frantic construction of field hospitals continues.