Tears, economic gloom as Spain wages war on coronavirus
MADRID: The surging death toll from the coronavirus epidemic in Spain drove a regional health official to tears on Wednesday, while Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez predicted an economic slump, urging all to rally in what he called a “war” against the virus.
With nearly 560 deaths, Spain is Europe’s second-worst hit country after Italy and has the world’s fourth highest number of cases, at 13,716 on Wednesday.
In a sign of the mounting emotional pressure, the director of health in the Aragon region, Javier Marion, broke down in tears during a news conference, a video posted online by several local media showed.
Aragon had 13 dead and 226 infected as of Wednesday.
Meanwhile, prosecutors in Madrid opened an investigation into a nursing home where at least 17 residents have died from coronavirus since Friday.
“We have never lived through anything like this. And our society, which had grown used to changes that expand our possibilities of knowledge, health and life, now finds itself in a war to defend all we have taken for granted,” the prime minister told a near-empty parliament.
“It is clear that annual GDP will fall … 2020 will not have 12 months, but 10 or even nine,” Sanchez said.
Between speeches, a masked and gloved cleaner climbed the stairs leading to the speaker’s platform wiping down the handrails, as well as the table and microphones.
To avoid spreading the infection in parliament, there were only 28 lawmakers and five ministers to listen to Sanchez in a chamber that normally houses 350. – Reuters