The coronavirus pandemic continues to pick up speed in Spain, with the Health Ministry reporting 18,418 new daily infections on Tuesday, as the country’s doctors began their first national strike in 25 years.
The cases are up around 33% compared to last Tuesday, and for the first time ever, more than 200,000 new cases have been confirmed over the last two weeks.
Hospitals are feeling growing pressure, with nearly 16,700 active COVID-19 patients – up more than 600 compared to Monday. Now, more than one-quarter of all the country’s intensive units are used to treat those with the infectious disease.
Recent images from hospitals in Valencia and Toledo show patients being treated in the hallways due to overflowing emergency wards.
Since Monday, another 267 people died of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, doctors across Spain began their first nationwide strike in a quarter of a century, although the disruption to hospitals was limited.
Spain’s doctors are protesting for better working conditions and against a new law that lowers the standards for hiring doctors.
A recent government decree allows unspecialized doctors to practice specialized medicine, which Dr. Tomas Toranzo, head of the CESM Union, says “puts patients in danger.”
“The Health Ministry hasn’t even dignified us with a meeting to try and get us to call off the strike,” he told Spanish health journal iSanidad.
The strike will continue indefinitely, with doctors called to protest the last Tuesday of each month until a deal has been reached.
Meanwhile, a scandal broke out after images surfaced of dozens of Spain’s top politicians and journalists – including Health Minister Salvador Illa – at a luxurious indoor gala on Monday.
On Sunday night, Spain’s government declared a state of emergency imposing a curfew and limiting the vast majority of gatherings to six people.
According to the organizer of the gala, El Español daily, there were around 95 people at the event, but it “complied with all health recommendations.”
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