Spanish troops disinfecting nursing homes find bodies among residents

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Spanish military members walk with special equipment to disinfect areas to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, arrive at Abando train station, in Bilbao, northern Spain, Monday, March 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

MADRID (AP) — Spanish army troops disinfecting nursing homes have found, to their horror, some residents living in squalor among infectious bodies authorities suspect are coronavirus victims. Prosecutors have launched a judicial probe.

Defense Minister Margarita Robles says the elderly were “completely left to fend for themselves, or even dead, in their beds.” She says 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 comes as Spain 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 on 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, tells a daily briefing.

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

Security forces guarded 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 turned to the rink after the city’s municipal funeral service said it could take no more coronavirus bodies until it restocked personal protective equipment.

The city government said bodies would be held at the rink until they can 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, which recently housed the COP25 United Nations climate conference.

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