Spain’s deaths number from the coronavirus has surpassed the official figure from China, becoming the second highest in the world.
The death toll has risen by 738 in just 24 hours to a total of 3,434 – a record spike for Spain.
In comparison, China has officially reported 3,285 deaths, while Italy – the worst affected country – has 6,820.
Spain’s PM Pedro Sánchez will later ask lawmakers to extend his country’s state of emergency for another two weeks.
Lawmakers are expected to agree to the prime minister’s request for lockdown measures to stay in place until April 11. Under the rules, people are banned from leaving home except for buying essential supplies and medicines, or for work.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, globally there are nearly 440,000 cases of the virus, with deaths approaching 20,000 and more than 100,000 people having recovered.
On March 25, the UN said the virus was “threatening the whole of humanity” as it launched a $2 billion appeal for the world’s poorest people.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “Global action and solidarity are crucial. Individual country responses are not going to be enough.”
On March 25, figures released by the health ministry show that in just 24 hours, Spain’s national death toll rose by 738. The country’s number of cases soared by 7,973.
These are the highest figures for Spain in a single day. Spain now has 47,610 confirmed cases. Catalonia accounts for close to 10,000 of those, while the Basque Country and Andalusia both have more than 3,000 cases. However, the worst affected region is the area around the capital Madrid, which has recorded 14,597 cases.
Meanwhile, Spain has confirmed a 15-day lockdown as part of emergency measures.
There will also be a reduction in medium-distance rail traffic to stem the spread of people around the country, and economic measures to support businesses and workers.
After a lengthy meeting of the country’s government cabinet, Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez said a partial lockdown would be in place across the country, with the armed forces on standby to assist with relief efforts.
All stores will be forced to close, except for those selling food and other basic necessities.
Pedro Sánchez said the state of emergency could be extended with congressional approval.
Authorities recorded 1,800 more cases since March 13 – many in the capital Madrid.
This will be the second state of emergency in the country since the transition to democracy began in 1975, the first being a 2010 air traffic controllers’ strike.
With 191 deaths and 6,046 infections, Spain is the worst-hit European country after Italy.
Rome declared a nationwide lockdown on March 16. More than 1,440 people have died in Italy.
Meanwhile, the US is extending its European coronavirus travel ban to include the UK and Republic of Ireland. The ban will begin at midnight EST on March 16, VP Mike Pence announced.
On March 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Europe was now the “epicenter” of the pandemic.
The WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilization and social distancing to save lives.