A Spanish flag with a black ribbon hangs from a balcony, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in downtown Ronda, southern Spain on April 7 2020. REUTERS/JON NAZCA
A Spanish flag with a black ribbon hangs from a balcony, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in downtown Ronda, southern Spain on April 7 2020. REUTERS/JON NAZCA

MadridSpain’s daily coronavirus death toll and the number of confirmed cases increased by the most in four days on Wednesday in Europe’s most extensive outbreak of the disease.

There were 6,180 new infections in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 146,690, according to health ministry data. The death toll rose by 757 to 14,555, the biggest gain since April 4.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will ask parliament on Thursday for approval to extend a state of emergency to April 25 as officials struggle to bring the outbreak under control.

The main opposition party has said it will back the request, though its leader is among critics who have lambasted the government’s management of the crisis, arguing that it was slow to react and restrictions on public life were too loose.

Opposition leaders have also highlighted the overburdened health system, which has been hampered by shortages of intensive-care beds and basic medical gear. Under the state of emergency, the central government took control of the system, which is normally operated by Spain’s 17 regional administrations. It argues that it followed directives from its scientific experts and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The speed of the outbreak in Spain was astonishing and medical equipment shortages were more acute than in other countries, WHO official Bruce Aylward said on Wednesday.

The government is also facing questions about its economic response, which is centred on an aid package for self-employed workers and companies worth as much as €100bn. With most of the economy at a standstill, jobless claims rose the most on record in March and economy minister Nadia Calvino has said that April will be bad too.

Spain will return to normal life gradually after April 26, although experts are still working on how that process will work, Maria Jesus Montero, budget minister and government spokesperson, told broadcaster Antena 3 Wednesday.

Bloomberg