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Spain virus toll passes 2,000, with 47 deaths


A staff member closes the gate of a school in Madrid on March 11, 2020 after Spain banned all air traffic from Italy, closed schools and blocked fans from football matches after being caught off-guard by a near tripling of coronavirus infections in less than 48 hours. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Coronavirus infections in Spain have passed the 2,000 marks with 47 deaths, the health ministry announced on Wednesday, making it Europe’s second most severe outbreak after Italy.

“By this morning, we had 2,002 cases,” said health ministry emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon, up from 1,639 on Tuesday and almost quadruple Sunday’s total.

Madrid is the worst-hit region with half of the confirmed cases and 31 of the deaths.

Officials quickly unveiled a battery of measures to contain the outbreak, closing schools in Madrid for two weeks, disinfecting public transport daily in the capital and banning all incoming flights from Italy.

But Simon said the impact of such measures would only be known “after nine or 10 days”.

He said it would take “between one and two months” to end the epidemic, which in the worst-case scenario could be up to “four months”.

The government has also promised to help the tourism sector in the world’s number two tourist destination.

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