Spanish army asks NATO for help to fight coronavirus

The Congress voted the state of alarm to continue until 12 April

The Spanish army has requested international assistance to fight the coronavirus pandemic, which is now expanding at a faster rate than in Italy, El Pais reported on Wednesday.

The Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center (EADRCC) of NATO “received a request for international assistance from the Armed Forces of Spain in their response to the global pandemic, EADRCC confirmed in a press release. The request specified 450,000 respirators, 500,000 rapid testing kits, 500 ventilators and 1.5 million surgical masks.

The state of alarm in Spain, which has confined the population to their homes since 15 March in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, will continue until 12 April. This was confirmed last night by the Congress, when the measure proposed by PM Pedro Sanchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE was supported by both right-wing and left-wing parties, with the abstention of pro-independence groups such as the Catalan Republican Left (ERC).

Spain has overtaken China to become the country with the second-highest number of coronavirus fatalities in the world after Italy. The latest figures from the Health Ministry on Wednesday put the number of deaths at 3,434, above the 3,287 recorded in China, and behind Italy, where at least 6,820 people have died from the Covid-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. In the last 24 hours, 738 people died from the virus in Spain, a day-on-day rise of 27%, the Spanish government reported on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Maria Jesus Montero, who is also the Government spokesperson, said that the Cabinet has approved the conditions to release the first €20bn tranche of a €100bn guarantee scheme to bring liquidity to small and medium businesses that have been experiencing a significant drop in revenues since much of the economy ground to a halt. PM Pedro Sanchez last week announced a €200bn package that included the liquidity scheme, tax deferrals and other forms of economic relief for struggling households and businesses.

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