Spain's coronavirus crisis is so uncontrollable that care home residents were left dead and abandoned in their beds, and Madrid is using an ice rink as a makeshift morgue

coronavirus madrid spain hospital

Susana Vera/Reuters

Healthcare workers are pictured at the entrance of the emergency unit at La Paz hospital during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid, Spain March 23, 2020

Spain has been struggling so much with the coronavirus pandemic that soldiers have been finding elderly care-home residents left alone, and its capital city is converting an ice rink into a makeshift morgue.

Spanish soldiers deployed to disinfect care homes across the country have in several instances found residents abandoned in their beds, with some left dead, the country's defense minister told the told the Telecinco news channel Monday.Advertisement

"On some visits, the army has seen that some of the older residents and elderly people had been completely abandoned, with some even having died in their beds," María Margarita Robles Fernández said. She did not give exact numbers or locations.

Normally, Spanish care homes put bodies in cold storage before collection by funeral services, the BBC reported. But under new procedures, where the cause of death is suspected to be coronavirus-linked, care workers have been instructed to leave the bodies for collection by properly-equipped funeral staff, according to the BBC.

The government has opened an investigation into the deaths, the BBC reported.

IFEMA coronavirus madrid exhibition centre hospital

Comunidad de Madrid/Handout via Reuters

A coronavirus patients arrives at a military hospital set up at the IFEMA conference centre in Madrid, Spain, March 21, 2020. Picture taken March 21, 2020.

Meanwhile, the capital city of Madrid is also struggling with the new coronavirus death toll.It has recorded between 100 and 200 coronavirus cases per head, making it one of the worst-hit in the country, according to the Spanish health ministry. Advertisement

Municipal funeral collection services in the city were suspended on Monday because there is not enough protective equipment for staff , El País reported.

Officials there are converting conference centers into field hospitals and a morgues, and the pavilion at the IFEMA exhibition center - normally used for trade fairs - has been turned into a military hospital, El País reported.

IFEMA exhibition centre coronavirus hospital madrid

Comunidad de Madrid/Handout via Reuters

Beds are prepared for coronavirus patients at a military hospital set up at the IFEMA conference centre in Madrid, Spain, March 21, 2020. Picture taken March 21, 2020.


The nearby Palacio del Hielo ice rink, which has "the necessary cold conditions to preserve the bodies," is also set to be turned into a temporary makeshift morgue, the newspaper said.

Bodies will be placed on a polymer surface around an inch thick, said the report.

Two hundred coronavirus patients have already been transported to IFEMA, and once it is fully functioning, it will have more than 5,000 beds and 500 intensive care units, The Local reported. Advertisement

Spain is the second hardest-hit by the coronavirus in Europe after Italy, with more than 35,000 cases. The death toll rose by 462 in a single night by Monday, taking the total deaths there to over 2,000, according to The Local.

The country went into lockdown on March 16.

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