Spain’s coronavirus death toll jumped by 738 overnight to exceed that of China, where the disease originated, as the country struggled to cope with an accelerating health crisis.
With 3,434 fatalities, Spain now has the second-highest number of deaths globally after Italy’s 6,820. Nursing homes across the country have been overwhelmed by cases and a skating rink in Madrid has been turned into a makeshift morgue.
Police stood guard on Wednesday outside the capital’s Palacio de Hielo rink, normally a popular venue for children’s birthday parties, as hearses and ambulances arrived at the building.
Broad avenues in Madrid and Barcelona were virtually deserted, as were towns and villages across Spain, while fire engines and tractors sprayed disinfectant to clean streets.
Authorities began to carry out mass testing for public workers in a requisitioned fairground in Madrid, one of the worst-hit regions.