Amid a massive shortage of protective gears for medical professionals and staff, Spain signed a multi-million euro contract with China to procure medical supplies. Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa on March 25 said that the government signed a contract with China worth 432 million euros to purchase 550 million masks, 5.5 million rapid test kits, 950 respirators and 11 million pairs of gloves.
Spain has already surpassed China’s death toll due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) has become a nightmare for the medical staff. The European nation has reported 3,434 deaths with 443 fatalities within 24 hours due to the deadly virus. Spain has the highest death toll after Italy which as reported almost twice the number of deaths in China.
"We have secured entire production chains (in China) which will be working solely for the Spanish government," said Illa.
The surge in the number of confirmed cases has brought Spain’s highly appreciated universal health care system to its knees. More than 5,400 healthcare workers alone, around 12 per cent of the overall cases in Spain, have been infected by the novel coronavirus due to the lack of sufficient protective equipment.
The Health Minister said that the supplies will be delivered on a staggered basis every week and the first major delivery is supposed to arrive at the end of this week. Spain has also sought help from NATO for humanitarian assistance to fight the novel Coronavirus.
Spain imposed an unprecedented lockdown on March 14 but the cases have kept increasing which forced the government to call army for help. Authorities have been analysing the rate of cases and deaths and will check whether the lockdown was having the desired effect.
"This is a very hard week because we're in the first stages of overcoming the virus, a phase in which we are approaching the peak of the epidemic," said Illa during a televised news conference.
(With inputs from agencies) (Image credit: AP)