- Spain has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 35,000 cases and more than 2,500 deaths as of Tuesday, making it the second-worst-affected country in Europe.
- The country is struggling to contain the outbreak and deal with new deaths.
- Spanish soldiers deployed to disinfect care homes around the country found elderly residents “completely abandoned,” with some left dead in their beds, Spain’s defence minister said on Monday.
- A care-home industry leader defended the carers, saying they were being forced to work without enough protective equipment, El País reported.
- Meanwhile, Madrid is converting a conference centre into a field hospital, and an ice rink into a makeshift morgue, the Spanish newspaper El País reported.
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As Spain has struggled with the coronavirus pandemic, soldiers have found elderly care-home residents left alone, and its capital city is converting an ice rink into a makeshift morgue.
Spanish soldiers deployed to disinfect care homes across the country have in several instances found residents abandoned or left dead in their beds, the country’s defence minister told the Telecinco news channel on Monday.
“On some visits, the army has seen that some of the older residents and elderly people had been completely abandoned, with some even having died in their beds,” María Margarita Robles Fernández said. She did not give exact numbers or locations.
Normally, Spanish care homes put bodies in cold storage before collection by funeral services, the BBC described health officials as saying. But now, when the cause of death is thought to be linked to the coronavirus, care workers are instructed to leave the bodies to be collected by properly equipped funeral staff.
Carers have walked out on the job in several homes with coronavirus cases, and many have said they are working in dangerous conditions without enough protective gear, the Spanish newspaper El País reported on Tuesday.
José Manuel Ramírez, the president of the Association of Social Services Directors and Managers, called Robles’ statements “unfortunate” and defended the carers, adding that “workers are putting themselves on the line, without resources, without healthcare support, without protective gear,” El País reported.
Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the conditions at the care facilities, the paper reported.
Madrid’s mayor said in a letter to the health minister that municipal funeral-collection services in the city were suspended on Monday because there was not enough protective equipment for staff, El País reported.
Officials have been converting the IFEMA exhibition centre – normally used for trade fairs – into the largest field hospital, El País said.
At least 200 coronavirus patients have already been transported to IFEMA, which, when fully functioning, will have more than 5,000 beds and 500 intensive-care units, The Local reported on Sunday.
And the Palacio del Hielo ice rink, which a draft report said had “the necessary cold conditions to preserve the bodies,” was turned into a makeshift morgue, El País said on Tuesday.
Spain is the second-hardest-hit country in Europe after Italy, with more than 35,000 coronavirus cases. The death toll rose by 514 in one day, officials said on Tuesday, taking the total to over 2,600, according to The Local.
The country went into lockdown earlier this month.