Spanish soldiers find bodies in retirement homes
Member of Military Emergency Unit walk with special equipment to disinfect areas to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, arrive at Abando train station, in Bilbao, northern Spain, on March 23, 2020. (AP Photo)
Spanish soldiers deployed to help fight the new coronavirus outbreak have found elderly patients abandoned, and sometimes dead, at retirement homes, as an ice rink inside a Madrid shopping mall was turned into a temporary morgue to cope with a surge in cases.
The army has been charged with helping to disinfect retirement homes in Spain, one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic.
Dozens of deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded at facilities across the country.“We are going to be strict and inflexible when dealing with the way old people are treated in these residences,” Defense Minister Margarita Robles said in an interview with private television channel Telecinco.
“The army, during certain visits, found some old people completely abandoned, sometimes even dead in their beds,” she added.
An investigation has been launched, the general prosecutor announced.
The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged to 2,182 on March 23 after 462 people died within 24 hours, according to health ministry figures.
Meanwhile, the ice rink at the Palacio de Hielo, or Ice Palace, a shopping center in Madrid was turned into a temporary morgue to deal with a surge in deaths in the capital, a spokeswoman for Madrid city hall told AFP.
Earlier, the city hall said the city’s 14 public cemeteries would stop accepting more bodies because the staff there did not have adequate protective gear.