Spain virus death toll tops 4,000 as government extends lockdown
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Spain virus death toll tops 4,000 as government extends lockdown

655 people die from COVID-19 within 24 hours, bringing total fatalities to 4,089; confirmed cases of disease rise to 56,188

Mortuary employees wearing face masks wheel a coffin into the crematorium of La Almudena cemetery in Madrid during the funeral of a COVID-19 coronavirus victim, on March 24, 2020. -(OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP)
Mortuary employees wearing face masks wheel a coffin into the crematorium of La Almudena cemetery in Madrid during the funeral of a COVID-19 coronavirus victim, on March 24, 2020. -(OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP)

The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged to 4,089 after 655 people died within 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday.

It was a 19 percent increase on figures released Wednesday by the authorities in Spain, which has the world’s second highest death toll from the disease after Italy.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 56,188, the ministry said.

Despite a national lockdown imposed on March 14, which parliament on Thursday agreed to extend until April 11, both deaths and infections have continued to mount, with officials warning this week would be particularly bad.

But the rise in the number of new deaths was smaller than that recorded on Wednesday when the figure rose by 738 or 27%.

A Spanish soldier stands next to beds set up at a temporary hospital for vulnerable people at the Fira Barcelona Montjuic center in Barcelona during the coronavirus epidemic, March 25, 2020. (Pau Barrena/AFP)

Health authorities are hoping it will soon become clear whether the lockdown is having the desired effect.

The Madrid region has suffered the brunt of the epidemic with 17,166 infections — just under a third of the total — and 2,090 deaths, or 51% of the national figure.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, whose wife is infected with the virus, has said this is the country’s most difficult moment since its 1936-39 civil war.

“Only the oldest, who knew the hardships of the civil war and its aftermath, can remember collective situations that were harsher than the current one. The other generations in Spain have never, ever had to face as a collective something so hard,” he said when he imposed the state of emergency on March 14.

Police officers stand in front of Madrid’s ice rink turned into a temporary morgue due the COVID-19 crisis in Madrid, Spain, March 24, 2020. (Manu Fernandez/AP)

Spain’s demographics partly explain why it has been one of the worst-affected nations.

The country has one of the longest life expectancies in Europe and the pandemic has taken a high toll on its large elderly population, who are especially vulnerable to the disease.

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