With saturated funeral companies, Madrid will use the Palacio de Hielo, a shopping center with ice skating rink, as an alternative morgue for the bodies of some people who died due to the covid-19.
On Monday (23), Spain reached 2,182 deaths from the disease transmitted by the new coronavirus. In addition, 33,089 people were infected, according to data from the Ministry of Health, which show that the increase reported each day is gradually being attenuated. However, experts warn that they are still unsure whether the pandemic has reached its peak in the country.
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Madrid is the region of Spain most affected by the covid-19, with 1,263 deaths, of which 242 were recorded between Sunday and Monday, the day when a huge field hospital began to operate, whose capacity will gradually increase to 5,500 beds to alleviate the saturation of the other medical centers in the Spanish capital.
The decision to house the bodies at the Palacio de Hielo was supported by the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, who had recently informed the national government that the municipal funeral home, which runs 14 cemeteries, will not collect the bodies of those killed by covid-19 due to the lack of personal protective equipment for their workers.
Corpses on a skating rink
The skating rink that will be used as a morgue is 1,800 square meters. The bodies will be placed in closed coffins, on a "polymeric material" surface to avoid direct contact with the ice, according to a report by the Madrid Department of Health to which the Efe Agency had access.
The decision was made, according to the report, "taking into account the scarcity of resources for storing bodies" in a crisis that "involves a significant number of deaths per day, which exceeds available resources".
The approximately 200 first patients with covid-19 began today to arrive at the field hospital built in just 48 hours at the event center in the Spanish capital, which, in December last year, hosted the World Climate Summit and, recently, the Fair International Tourism Board (Fitur).
The hospital, built in partnership between the municipal, regional and national governments, in addition to the Armed Forces, was designed to progressively receive a total of 5,500 beds.
For the first stage, probably next week, the hospital is expected to serve 1,300 people, according to the director of the temporary unit, Antonio Zapatero. The goal is to receive patients with less severe symptoms of covid-19.
He added that the forecast is that the hospital's capacity will increase by about 200 patients per day, depending on the logistics involving human resources and nursing and pharmacy services.
Government does not want to stop the economy
After taking the decision last Saturday to extend the state of alert for another 15 days, the Spanish government reinforced this Monday to citizens the request to comply "strictly" with all the restrictions already approved to contain the expansion of the coronavirus, such as "drastic" limitations on population displacement and economic activity.
Vice President for Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, said at a news conference that it is "difficult to understand" the allegations of a complete closure of industrial activity in Spain when the economy is already "very slow" and focused on essential services and the fight against coronavirus.