Spain, which has been under nationwide lockdown since early March to contain the spread of coronavirus, reportedly registered a leap of almost 302,265 jobless claims in March. The Spanish labour ministry reportedly said that the jobless claims are a result of the ‘extraordinary impact’ of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy. According to international media reports, the latest statement by the ministry is the biggest monthly increase on jobless claims on record in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy.
According to the Spanish health ministry, the number of new cases is considerably lower than the previous tally’s, although, the country currently has more than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and the deadly virus has claimed almost 9,387 lives in the nation. Last week, in a bid to contain the coronavirus spread, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also announced a halt on all ‘non-essential’ economic activity for two weeks. Sanchez said, “All workers in non-essential economic activities must stay at home for two weeks”.
The Spanish government is struggling to contain the virus spread as the country has a third-highest death toll. The country is also facing a massive shortage of protective gear for medical professionals and staff. The authorities have also 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.
"We have secured entire production chains (in China) which will be working solely for the Spanish government," said Illa during a televised news conference.
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. Spain has also sought help from NATO for humanitarian assistance to fight the novel coronavirus.