Spain’s COVID-19 death toll tops 22,000

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Spain’s virus death toll has passed the 22,000-mark in the third slight daily rise, the country’s health ministry says.

Some 440 people had died from the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, which brought total fatalities to 22,157, it added.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported a few days ago that Spain is recounting its dead.

Like many nations across the world trying to measure the toll that the coronavirus pandemic has taken, Spain has been stymied by unreliable figures.

But in a politically fragmented society, the confusion has led to recrimination and sinister claims, with opposition politicians accusing the fragile coalition government of covering up the real numbers.

“Spaniards deserve a government that doesn’t lie to them,” said Pablo Casado, the leader of the opposition Popular Party.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Mr Casado addressed a direct challenge to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez: “Tell us if it is true that the real number of victims could double the official figures.”

Officially, Spain’s death toll, which remains among the world’s highest, is closing in on 20,000. But there is evidence that it could be far higher, with many deaths — especially those in nursing homes — not properly classified as stemming from the coronavirus.

Mr. Sánchez and other officials reject accusations that they have intentionally underreported COVID-19 fatalities, but the authorities have begun trying again to measure the losses.

Last week, Spain’s justice ministry told civil registries to comb through their death records dating back to March 14, when the country went into lockdown, to find unaccounted-for coronavirus victims.

Spanish officials are not the first to take another look at how they count the dead. In New York City, the official death toll jumped sharply, to over 10,000 when the authorities began including people who had not tested positive for COVID-19 but were presumed to have died from it.

A debate over the reliability of coronavirus data has been taking place almost since the beginning of the outbreak and extends from China to the United States. Many countries have not tested enough people to track infections, let alone establish how many deaths have been caused by the virus.

Source: BBC and New York Times

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