By Alyssa McMurtry
OVIEDO, Spain (AA) – As Spain prepares for the state of emergency over COVID-19 to last until June 21, the Health Ministry reported on Thursday that 195 more people were infected with the coronavirus and five more people died.
The number of infections diagnosed on Wednesday is down slightly from the 219 people who tested positive on Tuesday, but up from Monday and Sunday. In total, 240,660 infections have been confirmed in the country.
The ministry also raised the official death toll by five. The total is now 27,133. Since Monday, the total number of deaths has increased by only six.
Yet, Spain’s Health Ministry has been slammed both nationally and internationally for how it counts fatalities. Maybe the biggest criticism is that it only adds new deaths to the official tally that occurred in the 24 hours before publishing the statistics.
If, for instance, someone died on Monday but the ministry does not receive the information of that death until Thursday, that death is not included in the total.
An article published Thursday in the Financial Times called the ministry’s data “erratic” and “misleading.”
Spain’s official death toll also only includes people who died after having tested positive for COVID-19.
However, at the peak of the crisis, testing was limited and many people infected -- especially those in nursing homes -- did not take a test before passing away.
Data published on Wednesday by Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) also showed that during the first 21 weeks of 2020, just over 225,930 people died in Spain -- nearly 44,000, or 24.1% more people than expected when compared to the historical average.
According to the INE, the deadliest week was between March 30 and April 5, which saw 20,575 fatalities -- up 154.6% compared to the same week in 2019.
By May 18, however, the level of fatalities in the country had returned to normal levels.
On Wednesday night, the Spanish government extended the state of alarm, for the sixth time, until June 21. According to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, this will be the last extension.
Local media reported that masks and social distancing will remain mandatory after the state of alarm comes to an end.