Spain's health ministry has said that the coronavirus death toll rose to 4,089 after 655 people died within 24 hours.

It was a 19% increase on figures released yesterday.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 rose to 56,188 in Spain, which has the world's second highest death toll from the disease after Italy.

Citizens awoke earlier to the prospect of more lockdown today after parliament approved an extension to its state of emergency in the early hours of the morning following a mammoth session of debate.

Parliament eventually voted to extend emergency measures - including the state of lockdown that has seen people confined to their homes except for essential trips for food, medicine and work - for a further 15 days until 12 April.

A majority of 321 lawmakers voted in favor of the extension, while 28 abstained. The largest opposition party, the People's Party, supported the measure.

"It is not easy to extend the state of emergency," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in Parliament. "I am convinced the only efficient option against the virus is social isolation."

Pedro Sanchez

Spain is struggling to cope with the mounting coronavirus crisis as its death toll exceeded China's yesterday.

The number of coronavirus cases in Spain has jumped tenfold since the state of emergency was imposed on 14 March, and the number of fatalities has passed 4,000.

Spain now has the second-highest number of deaths globally after Italy's 6,820.

Today's increase in both fatalities and new infections slowed, leaving officials hopeful a nationwide lockdown is starting to curb the spread of the disease.

Against that backdrop the improvement was more than welcomed as suggesting the authorities might just finally be making some progress.

The recent figures "indicate a change in the trend... which make us think that we are starting to enter a phase of stabilisation," Health Minister Salvador Illa said. 

"If this general trend is confirmed... the number of cases may have neared its maximum, the peak ," he added.

Salvador Illa

Nursing homes across the country have been overwhelmed, and a skating rink in Madrid has been turned into a makeshift morgue where hearses park outside the building, which is normally a popular venue for children's birthday parties.

The country's government is scrambling to get hold of protective equipment like masks, scrubs and gloves, and ventilators.

The government has ordered €432 million worth of masks, gloves and testing kits from China, Health Minister Salvador Illa said.

The country has also turned to NATO partners for protective gear and ventilators to treat patients.


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