Spanish army finds bodies in nursing homes among residents

  • Member of Military Emergency Unit walk with special equipment to disinfect areas to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Bilbao, northern Spain, on Monday AP

  • Health workers gather outside the Hospital Clinic joining applause by police officers and residents in support of the medical staff that are working on the COVID-19 virus outbreak in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, March 23, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) Felipe Dana

  • A spanish UME (Emergency Army Unit) soldier walks out of Madrid's ice rink turned into a temporary morgue due the COVID-19 crisis in Madrid, Spain, Monday, March 23, 2020. As cases in China ebbed, the dangers to Europe and the U.S. have grown exponentially, although Germany on Monday cautiously reported some flattening of its infection curve. More than 1.5 billion around the world have been told to stay in their homes. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or... Bernat Armangue

  • A spanish UME (Emergency Army Unit) soldier drives into Madrid's ice rink turned into a temporary morgue due the COVID-19 crisis in Madrid, Spain, Monday, March 23, 2020. As cases in China ebbed, the dangers to Europe and the U.S. have grown exponentially, although Germany on Monday cautiously reported some flattening of its infection curve. More than 1.5 billion around the world have been told to stay in their homes. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or... Bernat Armangue

  • A woman applauds in support of the medical staff working on the COVID-19 virus outbreak in Bustarviejo, outskirts of Madrid, Spain, Monday, March 23, 2020. More than 1.5 billion around the world have been told to stay in their homes. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause a more serious illness. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue) Bernat Armangue

  • Benat Erro Diez, a young student musician plays his clarinet in the empty Loiu airport, near to Bilbao, northern Spain, Monday, March 23, 2020. For some people the COVID-19 coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, but for some it causes severe illness. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos) Alvaro Barrientos

  • Undertakers carry a coffin of a person who died of COVID-19 at the La Almudena cemetery in Madrid, Spain, Monday, March 23, 2020. As cases in China ebbed, the dangers to Europe and the U.S. have grown exponentially, although Germany on Monday cautiously reported some flattening of its infection curve. More than 1.5 billion around the world have been told to stay in their homes. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause a more... Bernat Armangue

Associated Press
Published: 3/24/2020 2:32:21 PM

Spanish army troops disinfecting nursing homes have found, to their horror, some residents living in squalor among the infectious bodies of people that authorities suspect have died from the new coronavirus. Prosecutors have launched a judicial probe.

Defense Minister Margarita Robles said the elderly were “completely left to fend for themselves, or even dead, in their beds.” She said the discovery included several nursing homes and several bodies but did not give exact locations for the nursing homes or exactly how many bodies were found.

The news came as Spain on Tuesday announced a record daily rise of 6,584 new coronavirus infections, bringing the overall total to 39,673. The number of deaths also jumped by a record number of 514 to 2,696.

Madrid took over a public skating rink Tuesday after the city morgue overflowed. To date, 1,535 people have died in the hard-hit Spanish capital, more than half of the national total. The region has over 12,350 infections.

“This is the tough week,” Fernando Simón, head of Spain’s health emergency center, told a daily briefing.

Simon also said 5,400 health workers have been infected by the coronavirus that is relentlessly marching across the world from China, some 14 % of the country’s total cases.

Security forces guarded the outside of the Palacio de Hielo ice skating complex on Madrid’s northeastern outskirts as funeral vans entered the building via an underground car park. Madrid authorities took up the rink’s offer after the city’s municipal funeral service said it could take no more coronavirus bodies until it restocked with more protective equipment.

The city government said bodies would be held at the rink until they can be taken to be cremated or buried.

Madrid has adapted two city hotels as hospitals to help with the overflow of virus patients and plans to take over five others. Madrid’s hotel association has offered 40 hotels to help medical workers. Madrid also set up a field hospital in the Ifema trade fair complex that recently housed the COP25 U.N. climate conference.




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