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Spain seeks Nato help as death toll rises above China

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A member of the Logistics Brigade of the Spanish Army poses for photographers next to bunk beds for homeless people at a shelter in the Fira Pavilion, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Barcelona, Spain. Photo: REUTERS/Nacho Doce

A member of the Logistics Brigade of the Spanish Army poses for photographers next to bunk beds for homeless people at a shelter in the Fira Pavilion, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Barcelona, Spain. Photo: REUTERS/Nacho Doce

REUTERS

A member of the Logistics Brigade of the Spanish Army poses for photographers next to bunk beds for homeless people at a shelter in the Fira Pavilion, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Barcelona, Spain. Photo: REUTERS/Nacho Doce

The Spanish government has asked Nato to help source emergency healthcare supplies as the country's coronavirus epidemic became the second deadliest in the world, with Spain now having registered more deaths than China.

Spain announced a new record number of fatalities yesterday morning, with 738 people having died from the virus in 24 hours to take the death toll to 3,434, second only to Italy.

Yesterday, it emerged that Madrid had requested assistance from Nato's Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Co-ordination Centre to locate items such as surgical masks, disposable gowns and virus test kits.

In the letter, sent to Nato on Monday, the Spanish government said the coronavirus health emergency in Spain started on March 9, the day after the country's government had allowed large demonstrations to take place on International Women's Day, despite calls to ban mass events.

Salvador Illa, the health minister, said yesterday that it was only in the evening of March 8 that the government became aware that "a significant level of contagion in some parts of Spain took place around the last week of February".

Several regional leaders and opposition politicians had called for action to be taken earlier to seal off Madrid, where the majority of cases occurred in the early days of the epidemic.

Spain was eventually put on nationwide lockdown on March 15, but the spiral of contagion and death continued on an exponential course.

Yesterday, the total of confirmed coronavirus cases stood at 47,610 in Spain, up from 7,753 10 days earlier.

Fernando Simon, the head of Spain's centre for health emergencies, insisted yesterday that the grim data in terms of deaths comes with signs that the lockdown measures are slowing the rate of contagion.

"If we haven't reached the peak yet, then we are very close to it," said Mr Simon.

Meanwhile, the tragic extent of Italy's medical emergency was thrown into stark relief yesterday when it emerged that a nurse took her own life after being traumatised by her experience in trying to save lives. Daniela Trezzi (34) was left deeply upset by what she had seen fighting the virus in a hospital in Monza.

Another 683 people who had the virus died in Italy yesterday, bringing the country's death toll to 7,503. But the daily figure was down from the 743 people who died on Tuesday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk