Spanish soldiers have found older residents in care homes “completely abandoned” or “dead in their beds,” said Defense Minister Margarita Robles in a televised interview this week.
Her remarks come as Spain reported that 500 people have died from the CCP virus in 24 hours, making the country the worst-affected in Europe outside of Italy.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
The military found the residents in the care homes when they were providing health care services and disinfecting care facilities across the country, Robles told local news outlets, according to NPR. She didn’t provide an exact number.
A privately owned care home in Madrid reported 20 deaths and around 75 infections last week. And in other care centers, according to Robles, staff left the premises after CCP virus cases were confirmed and residents were told to take care of themselves.
“We will be completely relentless and forceful with the kind of treatment elderly residents receive in these centers,” Robles said, explaining that Spanish authorities will take action against care providers who avoid their responsibilities during the pandemic. “I know that a vast majority [of centers] are fulfilling their obligations.”
The rising death toll in Spain—2,696 have died so far—has overwhelmed hospitals and funeral homes around Madrid. Officials were forced to set up a makeshift hospital near the Palacio de Hielo, a large ice rink.
“This is a temporary and extraordinary measure primarily intended to mitigate the pain of victims’ families and the situation in Madrid’s hospitals,” a regional government official said on Monday, according to The Guardian.
Prosecutors in Catalonia, so far, opened an investigation into two care facilities, said local officials. At least 13 residents died at a home in Capellades, and nine more died at one in Olesa de Montserrat.
Spanish authorities said around 14 percent of all infections in the country are among health workers, which health emergency chief Fernando Simon attributed to the limited availability of protective equipment and several early clusters of the virus occurring in hospitals.
He also warned pressure on intensive-care units would continue after transmission of the virus among the general population had peaked.
Echoing his concerns, nursing union SATSE called for test kits and for drastic measures to help prop up Madrid’s hospitals, which it said were on “the verge of collapse.”
Reuters contributed to this report.