SPAIN extended its coronavirus lockdown today to at least April 11 as Europe’s second-worst hit country fought ‘a real war’ procuring medical supplies in an overheated Chinese market that officials said was rife with fraud and speculative deals.
The death toll rose by 655 overnight to 4,089. That was down from 738 deaths the previous day when Spain overtook China by the total number of deaths since the outbreak began. Health Minister Salvador Illa cautiously told parliament the data “makes us think we are starting a stabilisation phase”.
The number of coronavirus cases rose by 18 per cent to 56,188, a slower pace than in the past few days, but health emergency chief Fernando Simon said that the start of mass testing for the virus would certainly boost new notifications of infections.
“All the countries are fighting to secure domestic production, fighting to get supplies from China,” she said, adding that suppliers were failing to deliver on time. The government was also working to guarantee domestic production by converting some of the industry’s capacity.
Spain has ordered €432 million (£392.3 million) of masks, gloves and testing kits from China, and has turned to NATO partners for protective gear and ventilators.