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Spanish army finds dead, abandoned patients at senior care facilities

Cities struggle with social distancing

The Spanish army has been called in to help disinfect care homes in the country, and during some of their visits, they found morbid scenes, BBC News reports. Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said the military "found some older people completely abandoned, sometimes even dead in their beds."

During an interview with Spanish TV channel Telecinco, Robles said that the staff in some care homes left after coronavirus was detected at facilities. 

The government is now "going to be strict and inflexible when dealing with the way older people are treated" in retirement homes, Robles said, according to BBC. An investigation into the situation has been launched, Spanish prosecutors said. 

SPAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS
A man wearing a face mask is wheeled into La Paz hospital in Madrid on March 23, 2020 amid a national lockdown to fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. - The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged to 2,182 after 462 people died within 24 hours, the health ministry said. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa echoed this, saying in a press conference that the government will start intensive monitoring of care centers.

According to BBC News, health officials in Spain have said that when the cause of death is linked to coronavirus, care home patients are left in their beds so they can be retrieved by "properly-equipped" funeral staff. Under normal circumstances, the bodies would be put in cold storage, then collected by the funeral service, BBC reports. 

Like other health care facilities, nursing homes around the world have become hotspots for coronavirus, Reuters reports. 

In the U.S., a nursing home near Seattle appeared to be the epicenter of coronavirus in Washington state. A CDC investigation found several missteps that assisted the center's outbreak, where 35 reported deaths have been linked to the nursing home.

Dozens of Spain's 5,500 care homes have become overwhelmed by the disease. Many of the homes lack the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment and testing kits to combat the pandemic, according to Reuters, which interviewed many health care industry professionals 

On Monday, Illa also announced new measures the National Health System is taking to battle coronavirus. The country has added almost 53,000 health care professionals, including retired doctors, medical students and other groups. They also received 4 million masks and 1.5 million PPE, the ministry of health tweeted. 

Spain is the fourth most coronavirus-infected country, following China, Italy and the U.S. There are nearly 40,000 cases in Spain and 2,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.  

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