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Record 864 coronavirus deaths in one day as Spain races to stem tide

Grim task: A worker dons protective equipment to cremate the body of a virus victim in Ourense, north-west Spain PICTURE: EPA

SPAIN last night reported a record 864 coronavirus-related deaths in one day, as confirmed infections there broke through the 100,000 mark.

It means the country’s death toll now stands at 9,053. Infections hit 102,136 and only the US and Italy have announced higher figures.

Health chiefs reported 7,719 new cases over 24 hours — a fall of 1,500 on the previous day — offering hope that the contagion rate is stabilising.

They have boosted hospital beds by 20 per cent, tripled the number of intensive care beds in virus hotspots in Madrid and north-east Catalonia, and bought 1,500 new ventilator machines.

Guest suites have been turned into recovery rooms at dozens of hotels, while authorities are setting up field hospitals in sports centres, libraries and exhibition halls nationwide.

Manufacturers are being encouraged to ramp up ventilator production and to create solutions to a shortage of medical equipment by repurposing snorkelling and breathing masks.

France also suffered its worst daily death toll yesterday with another 509, taking the total to 4,032.

And it also has a shortage of supplies. The Paris region more than doubled its intensive care capacity in the past week — but the beds are already full. Patients are being moved from overwhelmed cities to other areas by high-speed trains and military aircraft. Christophe Prudhomme, an emergency worker in the capital, said: ‘It feels like we are in a third world country. We don’t have enough masks, enough protective equipment and by the end of the week we might be in need of more medication too.’

More makeshift hospitals are being built and Cuban doctors have arrived in France to help treat patients.

Meanwhile, Germany’s federal government is considering extending the national lockdown until at least the end of the Easter holidays to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Cases in the country rose to 67,366 yesterday and 732 people have died, statistics from the Robert Koch Institute showed yesterday. Day-on-day there were 5,453 new infections reported, while the death toll climbed by 149.

Elsewhere, Russia has sent medical equipment to the US and Turkey has provided masks, hazmat suits, goggles and disinfectants to Italy and Spain.