A medical worker in a protective suit walks past police officers patrolling a deserted street during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid, Spain March 22, 2020. | REUTERS/SUSANA VERA


There are nearly 4,000 health workers infected with the coronavirus in Spain, more than one in ten of total confirmed cases, officials said today as the virus toll rose in Europe’s second-worst affected country.

Like in other countries hit hard by the virus, nurses, doctors and other health workers have said they are not getting enough protective kits. Authorities and companies are scrambling to manufacture, buy and distribute more of them.

“We have some data we do not like, because we should try to control it, such as having 3,910 health workers affected,” health emergency chief Fernando Simon told a news conference.

The number of cases registered in Spain rose to 33,089 up from 28,572 cases yesterday. This means health workers account for nearly 12% of the total.

They and nursing home staff will have priority as Spain rolls out a testing programme.

The coronavirus death toll has reached 2,182, adding 462 fatalities overnight, the Health Ministry said. Simon said 87% of those who had died were aged 70 or older.

Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo was hospitalized yesterday with respiratory infection and is awaiting coronavirus test results, the government said today. Results for Calvo, born in 1957, will be released as soon as they are known, the statement said.

Two other ministers and the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez have also tested positive for the coronavirus over the past weeks.

With an extension to April 11 of a nationwide lockdown set to be approved by parliament on Wednesday, Simon said now was not the time for people to relax on respecting rules that ban anyone from leaving their home except to go to work, buy food or go to the pharmacy.

“On several occasions it has been said that the peak (of the epidemic) could be reached this week. Reaching the peak does not involve having controlled the problem, it means that you have to redouble your efforts not to take a step backwards,” Simon said.

Supermarket group Corte Ingles said it had set up a phone number and email for health workers to do their shopping, with free delivery to their homes.