Virus death toll passes 20,000 as three billion under lockdown

Beds for COVID-19 patients are set up inside the Republica de los Ninos amusement park in La Plata Argentina

After a spike of more than 700 fatalities from the novel coronavirus, Spain's death toll on Wednesday surpassed 3,400, The Associated Press reports.

In comparison, China has officially reported 3,285 deaths, while Italy - the worst affected country - has 6,820.

As the second-most visited country in the world after France, Spain was always going to be vulnerable to this global pandemic, and indeed the first two coronavirus cases registered were among foreigners in island resort areas.

As of Wednesday morning, New York City had recorded 192 deaths - almost 100 more than any other county or state in the country.

Spain's health service has enjoyed a good reputation in recent decades, but it has been no match for the exponential acceleration of the Covid-19 epidemic that has seen the number of deaths multiply by a factor of 12 in the past 10 days.

Worth some €432 million, the deal will cover 550 million masks, 5.5 million rapid test kits, 950 respirators and 11 million pairs of gloves to address shortages in Spain.

Despite the fact that Spain's population of 47 million has been under an unprecedented lockdown since March 14, the numbers have continued to spiral with more than 47,000 infected by the virus. We have to get to the end of next week strong, very strong.

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At La Paz university hospital in Madrid, accident and emergency nurse Guillen del Barrio sounded bereft as he related what happened overnight.

Although China has the most confirmed cases with more than 81,600, Italy recorded the most deaths with 7,503 fatalities in almost 69,200 cases.

"Many of my colleagues were crying because there were people who are dying alone, without seeing their family for the last time".

The call is likely to fall on deaf ears when European Union leaders talk on Thursday - with northern members wary of pooling debt with big spenders - but they will sign off on an "unprecedented" recovery plan.

In Japan, which has postponed this year's Olympic Games, Tokyo's governor urged residents to stay home this weekend, warning of a possible "explosion" of the coronavirus.

Spain is among the countries that have been hit the hardest by the virus. Health authorities are hoping it will soon become clear whether the lockdown is having the desired effect.

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