Spain reports more than 100,000 coronavirus cases, new daily death toll record

Spain has the world’s second-highest coronavirus death toll after Italy. (Reuters)
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Updated 02 April 2020

Spain reports more than 100,000 coronavirus cases, new daily death toll record

  • Overall fatalities caused by the disease rose to 9,053 from 8,189 on Tuesday

MADRID: Spain’s death toll surged over 9,000 on Wednesday as infections passed the 100,000 mark, but the rate of new cases continued to slow, suggesting the epidemic had peaked, health chiefs said.

Spain has the Europe’s second-highest death toll after Italy, with the virus so far claiming 9,053 lives after a record 864 people died over the past 24 hours, while the number of confirmed cases reached 102,136.

But on a day-to-day basis, the rate of new infections continued its week-long downward trend.

And most importantly, the number of people in hospital and those in intensive care was falling, suggesting the epidemic had reached its peak, Fernando Simon, head of the health ministry’s emergency coordination unit.

SPEEDREAD

The main priority now is to ensure that the health system is capable of guaranteeing adequate coverage for all patients.

“This is important,” said Simon who himself was diagnosed with the virus this week.

“Right now the central issue is not whether we have reached the peak or not, it seems we’re already there, and the numbers are going down.”

The main priority now was to ensure that the health system was capable of guaranteeing adequate coverage for all patients, Simon said.

Officials said the figures gave a “very positive” indication that the unprecedented lockdown put in place on March 14, confining Spain’s population of nearly 47 million to their homes, was working.

Crunching the numbers, Wednesday’s figures showed new cases increasing by just over 8.0 percent, compared with nearly 11 percent on Tuesday and 20 percent a week ago.

They also showed the death rate decreasing at a rate of 10.6 percent compared with 27 percent a week ago, with Dr. Maria Jose Sierra from the emergencies coordination unit saying the recent fatalities were those “who were infected two or three weeks ago.”

Maria Linero, a 28-year-old doctor working at a private hospital in central Madrid but who did not want to give her family name, said they had seen a drop in numbers in recent days.

“Last week, we were getting between 30 to 40 per day. Today, we’ve had 20. It’s going down, little by little so we’re on the right track,” she told AFP.

In one of the hospital’s centers, they were currently treating 446 people of whom 63 were in intensive care, she said, describing it as “the lowest figure we’ve seen since the start of the epidemic.”

“Unfortunately this epidemic has shown us that we are not at all prepared to deal with this number of people.”

Spain’s health care system has been stretched to its limit by a massive influx of seriously ill patients, and last weekend, Simon warned that even if the epidemic peaked, the pressure on the intensive care system would be subject to a lag of at least a week.

Spain is also struggling with a worrying rise in cases among health care personnel, with some 12,300 infected.

And thousands of others are also struggling with the psychological burden of being on the front line.

“You see there is no capacity and no resources which leads to extremely hard decisions that people take home with them,” said Maria Fernanda Visconti, a Venezuelan specialist in risk prevention at work who is responsible for staff and resources at Madrid’s La Princesa hospital and two other facilities.

“There are people who just break down during a session, telling me they live in a tiny flat with their elderly mother,” she told AFP.

“Or one nurse came to work the day after her mother died, but she wasn’t there at the time because she was working and feels horribly guilty.”

Even the non-medical staff are under huge strain, with many sick, Visconti said, describing the overall situation as “chaotic” with many suffering from “a huge sense of powerlessness and frustration.”

Madrid has been by far the worst-hit area, with Wednesday’s figures raising the death toll to 3,865, with the region suffering close to 30,000 cases, leaving hospitals and mortuaries overwhelmed.

On the upside, the number of people recovering has been steadily growing, rising to 22,647 on Wednesday after another 3,388 were declared virus-free, the figures showed. Nearly half of that number are in the Madrid region.


Furore after Indian police shoot gangster dead

Updated 10 July 2020

Furore after Indian police shoot gangster dead

  • Officials said Dubey was shot as he tried to escape a police vehicle while being driven to his home city
  • Rights lawyers alleged that police killed Dubey to prevent him revealing his connections with powerful people

LUCKNOW: Indian police shot dead one of the country's most wanted gangsters on Friday just a day after his dramatic arrest, sparking accusations of a staged extrajudicial killing.
Officials said Vikas Dubey, detained for the killing of eight police officers, was shot as he tried to escape a police vehicle while being driven to his home city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
Within hours of TV stations carrying images of his bloodstained body lying in a hospital, rights lawyers and activists alleged that police had killed Dubey to prevent him revealing his connections with powerful people.
"This is the most blatant case of extra-judicial killing. Dubey was a gangster terrorist who may have deserved to die. But (Uttar Pradesh) police have killed him to shut his mouth," Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan wrote on Twitter.
"Will we allow police to kill anyone without a court trial?" Utsav Bains, another Supreme Court lawyer, added.
Senior opposition Congress party leader Priyanka Gandhi said the people "protecting" Dubey were still free and called for a judicial probe into the killing.
Dubey, aged about 50, was accused of more than 60 murders, attempted murders and other crimes. He was said to have shot dead an Uttar Pradesh state minister inside a police station in 2001.
Despite those cases and his reputation for ruthlessness, Dubey has built considerable local political links over the past two decades.
On July 3, eight officers were gunned down when his gang staged an ambush on a police team aiming to arrest him.
A nationwide manhunt was launched, during which five of Dubey's associates -- including his bodyguard nephew -- were killed.
Police said he was tipped off about the deadly raid by local officers, some of whom have been arrested for leaking information to the gangster.
He finally gave himself up in a temple in Madhya Pradesh state on Thursday.
According to the police account, the car transporting him early Friday overturned on a wet road in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and he tried to escape.
"Dubey has been killed in an exchange of fire after he snatched the pistol of our men and tried to flee after firing at them. Four of our men are also injured," Kanpur police inspector general Mohit Agarwal told reporters.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a senior member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, has publicly endorsed police killings as a "deterrent" to crime.
Yogi's government has pledged to root out crime from the state and his tenure has coincided with a surge in the number of criminals dying in police shootouts.
"Encounter killings" have a long history India and for decades shootouts were staged to bypass India's judicial system when police battled armed separatist movements in West Bengal, Punjab, Kashmir and elsewhere.
"History repeats," Nirjhari Sinha, a civil rights leader from western Gujarat state, wrote on Twitter in response to Dubey's death.
"Dead gangsters can't speak about their political patronage."
More recently, suspects accused of violent crimes have died in custody.
Last year, police in southern India shot dead four men accused in the horrific rape and murder of a 27-year-old woman.