The Spanish government has defended its response to the coronavirus pandemic as the death rate in the country slowed for the first time in a week, insisting its actions have always been firmly rooted in scientific advice.
Spain recorded 655 deaths from Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 4,089, the health ministry said on Thursday. The number of confirmed cases stands at 56,188.
The numbers offered a glimmer of hope a day after the country recorded one of the world’s highest single-day death tolls of the pandemic to date at 738, and its total figure eclipsed that of China. The number of cases worldwide passed 500,000 on Thursday.
Spain’s foreign minister, Arancha González Laya, acknowledged that some things could have been done differently but said the nationwide “state of alarm” and lockdown imposed on 14 March was beginning to show results.
“It’s an unprecedented [crisis] in both depth and breadth,” she told the Guardian. “We’ve seen pandemics in the past, we’ve seen Ebola, for example, but it was much more localised. We’ve seen Sars, but it was much more localised. The impacts at a global level were much smaller, and Ebola was concentrated in countries that had extremely weak healthcare facilities and systems.
“But here we’re talking about a pandemic that is hitting the most prepared countries in the world hardest.”
González Laya said governments around the world faced questions about their management of the crisis, but Spain had always based its response “not on panic, not on feelings, but on science”.
Asked whether it had not been a huge mistake to let hundreds of thousands of people take part in nationwide marches for International Women’s Day on 8 March, she said the shift in the situation had only become clear the following day.
“It was on 9 March, a day later, that scientists told us ‘oh-oh, things are getting worse, so you should now move into a different level of alert’, which we did.”