Published: Thu, March 26, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Coronavirus: Spanish Soldiers Find Bodies of Elderly Patients in Retirement Homes

Coronavirus: Spanish Soldiers Find Bodies of Elderly Patients in Retirement Homes

Madrid remains the epicentre of the country's coronavirus outbreak with more than 12,300 recorded cases and 1,500 virus-related deaths.

The state prosecutor launched a separate investigation after the army found unattended bodies at some homes.

The army's Military Emergencies Unit (UME) had been disinfecting care homes in Spain, assisting the overwhelmed staff who are increasingly working in unsafe conditions.

Spain will mobilize 200 billion euros or the equivalent to one fifth of the country's annual output in loans, credit guarantees and subsidies for workers and vulnerable citizens, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Tuesday.

Reports state some residents in La Linea de la Concepcion, located around 125 kilometres from the infected nursing home, were concerned about the influx of infected elderly people but others have reportedly shown solidarity with them.

The government will "be strict and inflexible when dealing with the way older people are treated", she said.

The military disinfected 179 nursing homes on Monday and plan to clean another 96 on Tuesday, officials said.

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

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Funeral workers are working around the clock to collect the dead, but they are understaffed and don't have the proper protective gear.

His government has come under fire from the right for allowing and encouraging people to participate in a massive Women's Day march in Madrid on March 8, just a week before the country went into lockdown.

Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told Cadena Ser Catalan radio station the government was working to return Spaniards who were travelling overseas at the time of the outbreak and have struggled to fly home.

"We're going to be very blunt and implacable over this and we have a very clear message: the full weight of the law will fall on those who don't meet their obligations", she added.

The capital's Palacio de Hielo mall, home to an Olympic-sized ice rink, began operating as a makeshift mortuary after authorities said facilities were unable to cope.

In addition to a field hospital, the city last weak turned two hotels into hospitals and is planning to do the same with five extra hotels in an attempt to manage the health needs of the increasing numbers of coronavirus patients.

Spain is the worst affected country in Europe after Italy, which has recorded more than 6,000 deaths so far.

On Monday it emerged 20 people at a nursing home in France were found dead with a "possible link to COVID-19".

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