National Post (National Edition) - - PANDEMIC -

MADRID Spain’s coro­n­avirus death toll jumped by 738 overnight to ex­ceed that of China, where the dis­ease orig­i­nated, as the coun­try strug­gled to cope with an ac­cel­er­at­ing health cri­sis and an­other se­nior govern­ment min­is­ter was di­ag­nosed with the virus.

With 3,434 fatal­i­ties, Spain now has the sec­ond-high­est num­ber of deaths glob­ally af­ter Italy’s 6,820. Nurs­ing homes have been over­whelmed and a skat­ing rink in Madrid has been turned into a makeshift morgue.

The govern­ment said Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Car­men Calvo had tested pos­i­tive for coro­n­avirus — the third cabi­net mem­ber to be in­fected — but was do­ing well.

Broad av­enues in Madrid and Barcelona were virtually de­serted, as were towns and vil­lages across Spain, while fire en­gines and trac­tors sprayed dis­in­fec­tant to clean streets.

Au­thor­i­ties be­gan to carry out mass test­ing for pub­lic work­ers in a req­ui­si­tioned fair­ground in Madrid, one of the worst-hit regions.

Span­ish med­i­cal staff, who them­selves ac­count for thou­sands of cases, have taken out law­suits against the govern­ment, com­plain­ing of the lack of ba­sic pro­tec­tive equip­ment like masks, scrubs and gloves.

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