KEY POINTS

  • Spain's death toll rose to 3,434 on Wednesday, making it the country with the second highest number of deaths from COVID-19
  • It surpassed China, which has 3,285 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus outbreak, and is second to Italy, which has the highest number of deaths at 6,820
  • Two doctor unions in Spain have sued regional health officials and the national government due to shortages of protective equipment

Health officials in Spain said Wednesday that the country’s death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic surpassed China.

Spain has proven to be one of the hardest countries hit in Europe with 47,610 confirmed coronavirus cases. The death toll rose to 3,434, making Spain the country with the second-highest mortality rate from COVID-19. The country’s biggest daily death toll was Tuesday, as another 738 deaths from COVID-19 were confirmed.

Italy has been the country hit the hardest thus far with 6,820 deaths from the virus and China now has the third-highest mortality rate in the world with 3,285 confirmed deaths.

Spain is the fourth-most infected country behind China at 81,661 cases, Italy at 69,176 cases, and the U.S. at 55,243 cases.

“(It’s) an increase equivalent to the one we saw in the last days, and lower than the ones we were observing last week,” Fernando Simon, director of Spain’s Center for Coordination of Sanitation Emergencies, told El Pais. “These increases are variable to the different communities, but the evolution of the epidemic in which we are approaching the peak does not go hand-in-hand with the overload in the hospital system, because it takes a few days from the first symptoms.”

Spain's government declared a state of emergency in early March, confining residents to their homes. Spain’s health care system has struggled to keep up with the outbreak as intensive care units are reportedly overwhelmed with the growing number of cases.

Hotels have since been retrofitted to serve as hospitals to care for the infected but there are still reported shortages of medical supplies needed to protect workers. This has led to a reported lawsuit by two doctors’ unions against regional health authorities and the Spanish government, demanding the supplies be rushed out to hospitals.

An ice rink in Madrid has also been converted to a makeshift morgue because of funeral homes being overwhelmed by the death toll.

The shutdown in Spain has emptied the streets of the main cities, such as Barcelona The shutdown in Spain has emptied the streets of the main cities, such as Barcelona Photo: AFP / Pau Barrena