United Kingdom

Spain sees its highest number of coroanvirus deaths for second day in a row

Spain's death toll from coronavirus has risen by a record amount for the second day in a row with total cases now over 100,000 as the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

The country registered 864 new deaths between Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing the total from 8,189 to 9,053. The previous largest increase was 849, which occurred in the previous 24 hours.

The number of new infections rose by 7,719, jumping from 94,417 on Tuesday to 102,136 at the same time Wednesday. 

Spain is now rapidly catching up on Italy, which is the worst-affected country in the world with almost 12,500 deaths.

Italy was the first European country to go into a full lockdown on March 10, with data showing that the rate of new infections is now levelling off - meaning that deaths will begin to slow as the pressure on hospitals eases.

However, Spain waited another four days before going into lockdown and the infection rate there is still rising - with a record 9,222 new cases recorded between Monday and Tuesday.

That means the virus has yet to peak, and deaths will likely continue to rise rapidly over the coming days. 

The news came as Europe's death toll from the virus topped 30,000, with more than 450,000 infections.

That is compared to just 1,192 deaths and 36,347 infections when the World Health Organisation declared the continent the new virus epicentre on March 13.

Deaths are also starting to rapidly increase in France and Germany, which have both seen rapid increases in the last 24 hours.

The Robert Koch institute announced Wednesday that 149 more people had died from the virus, bringing yesterday's tally of 583 fatalities to 732, an increase of more than 25 per cent.

It also brings Germany's mortality rate up to over 1 per cent for the first time - still lower than most of its European neighbours, but up from 0.4 per cent a week ago.

Meanwhile the total number of infections in Germany rose by 5,453, bringing the total from 61,913 recorded yesterday, to 67,366 today.

Germany had been widely praised for using extensive testing and contract-tracing measures in order to contain and isolate the virus, though there are now fears those measures have not proved as effective as hoped.

Meanwhile France struggled through its darkest 24 hour period between Monday and Tuesday, with 499 dead from the virus - the largest number since the virus broke out there earlier this year.

That brought the total number of deaths in the country from 3,024 to 3,523.

France has a total of 52,128 cases of COVID-19, the name for the disease caused by the virus.

Spain is two-and-a-half weeks into a national lockdown with stay-at-home rules for all workers except those in health care, food production and distribution, and other essential industries.

The country is frantically working to add to the number of intensive care units in hospitals which are quickly filling up in the country's hardest-hit regions.

Spanish authorities are bringing into the country 1,500 purchased ventilator machines and asking local manufacturers to ramp up production, with some creative solutions employed, such as snorkeling masks repurposed as breathing masks.

Spain has already boosted its hospital beds by 20 per cent. 

Dozens of hotels across Spain have been turned into recovery rooms, and authorities are building field hospitals in sports centers, libraries and exhibition halls.

Europe's greatest need at the moment, however, is intensive care units, which are essential in a pandemic in which tens of thousands of patients quickly descend into acute respiratory distress. 

Those ICU units are much harder to cobble together quickly than standard hospital beds.

Milan opened an intensive care field hospital Tuesday at the city fairgrounds for 200 patients, complete with a pharmacy and radiology wards. It expects to eventually employ some 900 staff. 

The move came after the health situation turned extreme in Italy's Lombardy region, where bodies overflowed in morgues, caskets piled up in churches and doctors were forced to decide in some cases which desperately ill patient would get a breathing machine.

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