Spain’s coronavirus deaths rise as some businesses prepare to reopen

In this handout picture made available on April 9, 2020 by the Comunidad de Madrid (Madrid regional government) members of the Comunidad de Madrid's Biological Risk Medical Emergency Service dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, transfer a patient in Madrid. (AFP)
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Updated 12 April 2020

Spain’s coronavirus deaths rise as some businesses prepare to reopen

  • A total of 619 people died over the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed
  • Tough lockdown measures have helped bring down a spiralling death rate that reached its peak in early April

MADRID: Spain’s coronavirus death toll rose for the first time in three days on Sunday, as some businesses prepared to reopen under an easing of the country’s strict lockdown regime.
A total of 619 people died over the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed, bringing the cumulative toll to 16,972. Confirmed cases increased by around 2.6 percent to 166,019.
Tough lockdown measures have helped bring down a spiralling death rate that reached its peak in early April, and the new deaths reported on Saturday were the lowest in 19 days while the increase of confirmed cases has roughly halved from a week ago.
All non-essential workers had been told to stay at home, but the government plans on Monday to revert back to less strict curbs that were in force up to March 27, allowing some businesses to resume activities.
That has triggered concerns of a resurgence in an epidemic that has caused more deaths in Spain than anywhere apart from the United States and Italy.
Catalonia’s regional leader Quim Torra said in a Twitter posting that the government was ignoring scientific advice to “maintain total confinement.”
Antoni Trilla, an epidemics expert and government adviser from the University of Barcelona, had said on Thursday that the stricter confinement measures should be extended.
However, Social Security Minister Jose Luis Escriva said a less strict lockdown was now sufficient to prevent the disease from spreading.
“What we have seen in the past days is the result of conditions that were in place between March 17 and 27, and which will still be in place from Monday,” he told the La Sexta TV channel on Saturday.
The coronavirus is weighing heavily on the Spanish economy, with some 900,000 jobs lost since mid-March.
European Central Bank Vice President Luis de Guindos said Spain’s reliance on tourism would likely leave it exposed to a worse recession than the rest of Europe.
“We’re talking about the worst economic situation since the (1936-39 Spanish) Civil War,” he said in an interview with the La Vanguardia newspaper.
Industry Minister Maria Reyes Maroto said the tourism sector would be slow to recover.
Restoring confidence in Spain as a safe destination for tourists would be key, and measures to prevent the spread of the virus, such as hand-washing and social distancing, would have to continue, even on the beach.
“Those patterns will be in our day-to-day lives for a time, you cannot take a step back,” she was quoted as telling newspaper El Pais.


Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of attacking settlements in disputed region

Updated 27 September 2020

Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of attacking settlements in disputed region

  • Armenia’s Defense Ministry said its troops downed 2 Azerbaijani helicopters and 3 drones in response to an attack
  • Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said it launched a military operation along the “contact line”

YEREVAN: Armenia said early on Sunday that neighboring Azerbaijan had attacked civilian settlements in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and urged the population in the disputed region to seek refuge in shelters.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry said that its troops had downed two Azerbaijani helicopters and three drones in response to an attack it said began at 0410 GMT against civilian settlements, including the regional capital of Stepanakert.
“Our response will be proportionate, and the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the situation,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, in turn, said it had launched a military operation along the “contact line,” a heavily-mined no-man’s-land that separates the Armenian-backed forces from Azeri troops in the region, Russian news agencies reported.
The ministry said that an Azerbaijani helicopter had been downed but that its crew had survived.

Meanwhile, Turkey vowed complete support for Baku and called on Armenia to give up its “aggression.”
“We will support our Azerbaijani brothers with all our means in their fight to protect their territorial integrity,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement.
Turkey is a key ally of Baku with close cultural and linguistic ties with Azerbaijan.
Ankara has no diplomatic relations with Yerevan due to a dispute over the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire which Armenia says is a genocide.
“The greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Caucasus is Armenia’s aggression, and it should give up this aggression which will throw the region into fire,” Akar said.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin “strongly” condemned the clashes and said Armenia “once again violated international law and (has) shown that it has no interest in peace and stability.”
He called on the international community to “say stop to this dangerous provocation” in a tweet.
“Azerbaijan is not alone. It has Turkey's full support,” Kalin added.
The Turkish foreign ministry in a statement went further, promising: “However Azerbaijan wants, we will stand by Azerbaijan in that manner.”
The two former Soviet countries have long been in conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway, mainly ethnic-Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, and border clashes have intensified in recent months.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry condemned what it called the “aggression of the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan” and said the Armenian side would deliver an appropriate military and political response.
Ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence during a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Though a cease-fire was agreed in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.