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Spain records its highest number of new coronavirus deaths

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Spanish military members walk with special equipment to disinfect areas to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, arrive at Abando train station, in Bilbao, northern Spain, Monday, March 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

MADRID — Spain recorded on Tuesday 849 new coronavirus deaths, the highest number since the pandemic hit the southern European country, according to the country’s health ministry.

With both new infections and deaths up around 11% each, to a total of 94,417 confirmed cases and 8,189 fatalities, Spain is seeing a slight rebound in the outbreak.

That’s despite an overall timid slowdown in its spread for the past week, allowing authorities to focus on avoiding the collapse of the health system. At least one third of Spain’s 17 regions were already at their limit of capacity in terms of intensive care unit usage, while new beds are being added in hotels, exhibition and sports centers across the country.

At least 14% of those infected are much needed medical personnel. Many of them lack proper protective gear.

The government also wants to cushion the social effects of a major economic slowdown. Spain is officially “hibernating,” with new measures halting all but essential economic activity coming into full force on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s left-wing Cabinet is expected to add a new 700-million-euro aid package, including zero interest loans, as well as suspend evictions for families who can’t afford to pay their home rent.

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