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Spain struggles with data as contagions continue

Spain reports 585 more deaths on Friday, with total increasing by only 348

Alyssa McMurtry   | 17.04.2020
Spain struggles with data as contagions continue

OVIEDO, Spain

Spain's Ministry of Health readjusted its official data today, reporting 585 new deaths between Thursday and Friday.

The official death total is now 19,478 -- up only 348 compared to Thursday.

"We are trying to correct the data so that it is coherent […] We had a discrepancy with one regional government so we had to readjust," said Fernando Simon, Spain's chief epidemiologist, in a press conference on Friday.

The number of recoveries was also reduced, with the new total at 72,963.

On Friday, Spain also registered 5,252 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to more than 188,000. Simon warned that the data was "distorted" because the country was now conducting thousands of rapid antibody tests.

This week, some regions of Spain began to tally the number of suspected COVID-19 deaths. That data suggests that the true COVID-19 death toll in Spain may be significantly higher than the nearly 20,000 reported.

The Health Ministry of Catalonia now estimates that more than 7,500 people have died in the region due to COVID-19, nearly double the number included in Spain's official statistics.

The Asturias region in Northern Spain also published data related to suspected COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. The regional government estimates that in these residences for senior citizens, the disease has claimed a further 100 victims on top of the 174 officially confirmed to have died from the disease.

On Friday, the Spanish government issued a decree ordering regional governments to report more detailed information, but only about cases confirmed via medical testing.

Even without these suspected deaths in Spain's official death toll, the country has the worst per-capita death rate from COVID-19 in the world.

On Friday, China also released revised numbers related to total COVID-19 deaths in Wuhan, where the virus was first reported in late 2019. Counting patients who died at home before reaching the hospital and those in hospitals who were not tested, the revised death toll spiked by around 50% to 3,869.

Spain has been on strict lockdown for over a month and it appears likely to continue until mid-May.

Although some restrictions on the non-essential economic activity like industry and construction were lifted this week, the majority of the population remains confined to their homes. All outdoor exercise is forbidden.

Children who do not need to go to the supermarket or pharmacy have been fully confined indoors, with few exceptions. The Health Minister said on Thursday that the government was still studying the evolution of the virus and "as soon as it's possible, children will be able to go outside in an organized fashion."

Since appearing in China last December, the virus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions, according to figures compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

More than 2.1 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with over 146,000 deaths, and over 552,000 recoveries.

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