Spain overtakes China with 3,434 virus deaths
Healthcare workers dealing with the new coronavirus crisis stand at the entrance of the Fundacion Jimenez Diaz hospital in Madrid on March 25, 2020. As the global death toll soared past 20,000, Spain joined Italy in seeing its number of fatalities overtake China, where the virus first emerged just three three months ago.
AFP/Oscar del Pozo
Spain overtakes China with 3,434 virus deaths
Hazel Ward (Agence France-Presse) - March 26, 2020 - 8:44am

MADRID, Spain — Spain's coronavirus death toll overtook that of China on Wednesday, rising to 3,434 after another 738 people died as Madrid announced a multi-million-euro deal with Beijing for critical supplies.

The spike in fatalities means that across the globe, only Italy — with 7,503 deaths — now has a higher death toll than Spain.

In China, where the virus emerged late last year, the COVID-19 epidemic has claimed 3,281 lives. 

The latest figures were announced as Spain entered the 11th day of an unprecedented lockdown to try and rein in the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has now infected 47,610 people, the health ministry said.

Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo, who has been in hospital since Monday, has tested positive for the virus and is improving, the government said.

Two other ministers in Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's government are infected.

The surge in numbers has brought the medical system to the brink of collapse, with Spain struggling with a lack of medical supplies for testing, treatment and the protection of frontline workers, and a growing number of cases among healthcare personnel with more than 5,400 infected. 

To address the shortages, Health Minister Salvador Illa said the government had inked a major deal with China. 

Worth some 432 million euros ($467 million), the deal will cover 550 million masks, 5.5 million rapid test kits, 950 respirators and 11 million pairs of gloves, he told a televised news conference.

"We have secured entire production chains (in China) which will be working solely for the Spanish government," he said. 

The supplies will be delivered "on a staggered basis, every week, with the first — a major delivery — arriving at the end of this week," he said. 

He also said Spain would continue producing its own materials on a national level. 

NATO help sought

The announcement came a day after Spain's armed forces asked NATO for humanitarian assistance to secure supplies to help curb the spread of the virus both in the military and in the civilian population. 

The request specified 450,000 respirators, 500,000 rapid testing kits, 500 ventilators and 1.5 million surgical masks.

Despite the national lockdown imposed on March 14, which is to be extended until April 11, both deaths and infections have continued to mount, with officials warning this week would be particularly bad. 

"We are approaching the peak," the ministry's emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon said in announcing the figures.

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 14,597 infections — just under a third of the total -—and 1,825 deaths, or 53 percent of the national figure. 

Madrid mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida warned the coming days would be "complicated" "psychologically" for the entire city.

Airbus resumes production

With hospitals on the brink of collapse, troops have set up a massive field hospital in Madrid's vast IFEMA exhibition centre which currently has 1,500 beds but which could be expanded to take in up to 5,500 people — making it the largest hospital in Spain.

And with the city's funeral services overwhelmed, officials have commandeered the Palacio de Hielo ice skating rink to serve as a temporary morgue. 

In a separate development, unions have been up in arms over a decision by Airbus to resume production in Spain, despite the outbreak, saying it endangered workers' lives. 

So far, a total of 138 employees have tested positive for the virus with hundreds more in quarantine, but the European plane-maker resumed production on Monday, prompting unions to call an indefinite strike.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS SPAIN
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 10, 2020 - 7:38am

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

August 10, 2020 - 7:38am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 727,288 people since it emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Sunday.

At least 19,674,290 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 11,665,200 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

August 9, 2020 - 12:33pm

Brazil on Saturday surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths and three million cases of infection, crossing the grim milestone after President Jair Bolsonaro said he had a "clear conscience" on his response to the outbreak.

With 100,477 fatalities and 3,012,412 confirmed cases, the South American nation of 212 million people is the second hardest-hit country in the global pandemic, after the United States.

The health ministry reported 905 new deaths in the past 24 hours, as well as 49,970 fresh cases. 

But the official figures are most likely an undercount, with experts estimating that the total number of infections could be up to six times higher due to insufficient testing. — AFP

August 9, 2020 - 9:33am

Two new confirmed imported cases of COVID-19 in Taiwan had recently come from the Philippines, Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control says in an August 8 announcement.

The two, identified as Cases 478 and 479, are a couple and are both 60 years old. They had been in the Philippines since earlier this year.

"The male case developed a fever, a runny nose, and fatigue on July 23. The female case experienced an itchy throat and cough on August 3. Their symptoms were relieved after taking medications, but they didn't seek medical attention in the Philippines," Taiwan CDC says.

They returned to Taiwan on August 6 and reported their symptoms to quarantine oficers when they arrived at the airport. They were brought to a quarantine facility and lab tests confirmed on August 8 that they had COVID-19.

August 8, 2020 - 4:47pm

The Department of Health reports 4,226 new cases of coronavirus disease 2019, bringing the national tally to 126,885.

There are 287 additional survivors and 41 new deaths.

August 7, 2020 - 5:08pm

Reports say that former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim has been confined at an undisclosed hospital reportedly due to the coronavirus disease.

Lim’s grandson, Manila 1st District Councilor Niño Dela Cruz, earlier requested for prayers for the healing of the former mayor. The post has been deleted. — The STAR/Rey Galupo

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