MADRID (Reuters) – Spain woke up to the prospect of further suspension on Thursday after parliament approved an extension of its state of emergency early in the morning after a mammoth round of discussions.
Ambulance workers in protective clothing arrive with a patient during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid, Spain, on March 25, 2020, at La Princesa Hospital. REUTERS / Susana Vera
The parliament finally voted to extend the emergency measures – including the locked state, where people were locked up in their homes for essential trips for food, medicine and work – by a further 15 days until April 12.
A majority of 321 legislators voted for the extension, 28 abstained. The largest opposition party, the People’s Party, supported the measure.
“Prolonging the state of emergency is not easy,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in parliament. “I am convinced that the only effective option against the virus is social isolation.”
Spain is struggling to cope with the growing coronavirus crisis, as the death toll on Wednesday exceeded that of China and another 738 people died in a single day.
The number of coronavirus cases in Spain has increased tenfold since the state of emergency on March 14, the number of deaths by 30 to 3,434.
Spain has the second highest death toll worldwide after Italy’s 6,820.
Nursing homes across the country were overwhelmed, and an ice rink in Madrid was turned into a makeshift mortuary where hearses parked in front of the building, which is usually a popular place for children’s birthday parties.
The government of the country is endeavoring to procure protective equipment such as masks, scrubs, gloves and respirators.
The government has ordered masks, gloves and test kits worth € 432 million ($ 471.4 million) in China, said Health Minister Salvador Illa.
The country has also turned to NATO partners for protective equipment and ventilators to treat patients.
($ 1 = 0.9164 euros)
Reporting by Jessica Jones and Inti Landauro; Edited by Jan Harvey