Healthcare workers hug each other as they are cheered on by people outside a hospital in Spain. AFP
Spain confirmed another 838 deaths in 24 hours from coronavirus on Sunday, a new daily record bringing the total number of deaths to 6,528, according to health ministry figures.
The number of confirmed cases in Spain has now reached 78,797 − after the one-day increase of 9.1 per cent − as the country battles the world's second most deadly outbreak after Italy.
Except for a brief lull recorded on Thursday, Spain's death toll has been rising daily.
However, officials have pointed to a slower growth rate for both deaths and confirmed cases and expressed hope that the peak of the outbreak was approaching.
"The spread (of the pandemic) appears to be stabilising. It even appears to be in retreat, but we have to remember that our fundamental problem at the moment is to ensure the intensive care units are not saturated," said Fernando Simon, the health ministry's emergencies coordinator.
Simon said that six out of a total 17 regions "have reached their capacity limit and three more are fast approaching that stage." The toughening of the current lockdown conditions should help the situation, he added Spain also reported Sunday that 14,709 people had been cured of COVID-19, a rise of 19.7 per cent in 24 hours.
Like Italy, Spain on Saturday tightened measures to contain the outbreak, ordering a halt to all "non-essential" activities.
"All workers in non-essential economic activities must stay at home for two weeks," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.
The health, food and energy sectors are among areas considered to be essential.
An emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday was to decide on the details of the new measure.
Currently, people in Spain are authorised to leave home for work if remote work is not possible, to buy food, get medical care or briefly walk their dog.
A city in China's Hubei province, the epicentre of the global coronavirus epidemic, will pay residents as much as 10,000 yuan ($1,425.96) if they proactively report symptoms of the illness and it is confirmed after testing.
Qianjiang, a city of around one million people located about 150km from the stricken provincial capital of Wuhan, has reported a total of 197 cases so far and is stepping up efforts to ensure its infected people are confined and treated.
Anger has been building up against the authorities in China over their early handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 3,300 people globally, most of them in China. The Fujian provincial government said that as of Friday, the province had 296 cases of coronavirus and 10,819 people had been placed under observation after being classified as suspected close contacts.
India has also closed a border with neighbouring Myanmar to counter the coronavirus outbreak, as countries across South Asia reported a rise in cases on Wednesday. No cases have so far been confirmed in Myanmar.
Coronavirus concerns led Saudi Arabia to cut off air and sea travel with Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, South Korea, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. The kingdom had earlier closed off its land borders as well.
"Six teams of NDRF (National Disaster Relief Force) have been deployed in six districts- Pathanamthitta, Idukki, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Kottayam and Idukki. Two teams of Army have been deployed in Trivandrum and Kottayam districts. Air Force has been requested to be on standby in case of any emergencies”, the release from chief minister’s office said.
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