Spain’s death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed the official figure from China, becoming the second highest in the world.
The number of deaths rose by 738 in 24 hours – a daily record – to 3,434, higher than the 683 announced in Italy.
By comparison, China has officially reported 3,285 deaths, while Italy – the worst affected country – has 6,820.
Spain’s rate of infection has increased by a fifth and almost 27,000 people are being treated in hospital.
Madrid is the country’s worst affected region but Catalonia in the north-east has seen a rapid increase in cases.
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo has tested positive for the virus, the government says. She was admitted to hospital on Sunday with respiratory symptoms.
MPs are to vote on extending the country’s state of emergency for another two weeks until 11 April. Under the rules, people are banned from leaving home except for buying essential supplies and medicines, or for work.
Globally there are 460,000 cases of the virus, with more than 20,000 deaths and more than 110,000 people having recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
On Wednesday the UN said the virus was “threatening the whole of humanity” as it launched a $2bn (£1.7bn) appeal for the world’s poorest people.
“Global action and solidarity are crucial. Individual country responses are not going to be enough,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said. BBC