In Spain The government declared a state of emergency Friday, days after it allowed mass gatherings in the capital and cases jumped to 4,200.
Just last weekend, about 120,000 people marched through downtown Madrid to celebrate International Women’s Day. Some 60,000 soccer fans filled one of the city’s largest stadiums. And 9,000 supporters of Vox, Spain’s third-largest party, gathered inside a former bullring.
Now Spain has the second-highest number of infections of any European country, after Italy — overtaking the larger nations of France and Germany — and faces the fastest spreading contagion on the Continent.
Between last weekend and Friday, the number of cases in the country shot from several hundred to 4,200, with 120 deaths, and the prime minister warned that the number of cases could reach 10,000 by next week. That would give Spain one of the fastest rates of coronavirus contagion in the world.
Spain’s initial, seemingly blasé approach to the virus and its failure to take mitigating steps sooner is facing sharp criticism. And coming on the heels of the crisis in northern Italy, where a slow response allowed the virus to overwhelm the health care system, Spain’s experience once again underscores the necessity for governments to take strict measures early to combat the virus’s spread.
It may also prove to be the latest warning to governments that have resisted imposing tough restrictions before a spike in cases brings on a crushing public health crisis.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, while acknowledging that ‘‘many more families are going to lose loved ones,’’ took a notably restrained set of measures, even as British medical officials estimated the number of infected people in the country was already between 5,000 and 10,000.
In Spain, after defending the decision to let mass gatherings go on, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez warned on Friday that Spain was “facing very difficult weeks.” Two ministers in his cabinet have already tested positive, and he and the rest of the cabinet are now being tested.
While there have been significant outbreaks in Basque and Catalan towns, the Madrid region has become the epicenter of Spain’s crisis. By Wednesday, Madrid accounted for about half of the cases and almost two-thirds of the fatalities.
All Madrid schools and universities have now been shuttered for at least 14 days, with other regions later following suit. Catalonia, the region in northeastern Spain, said late Friday that it would start to “restrict entrances and departures” though it did not offer details.
On Thursday, three of the politicians who led last weekend’s events tested positive for coronavirus, raising questions about whether those in charge in Spain had actually helped spread the virus, rather than halt it.
The far-right Vox party apologized to its followers for holding its Madrid meeting, while both the leader and the secretary general of Vox tested positive for coronavirus.
Only a day earlier, in a news conference on Thursday that was held by video link while he and his cabinet members underwent coronavirus testing, Mr. Sánchez skirted questions about a state of emergency. He dismissed suggestions that the Spanish authorities had been underestimating the health threat.
While recognizing that there was no “instruction manual” to deal with this kind of health crisis, Mr. Sánchez said he could offer “a message of calm, serenity, unity and above all trust in those who know how to contain the extension of this virus.”
Yet some Spanish medical specialists believe his reassuring tone was overdone.
Ángela Hernández Puente, a doctor who is the deputy secretary general of a Madrid health sector labor union, said in a phone interview that “Spain has until now handled this crisis with a certain level of complacency — and certainly not energetically enough.’’
‘‘Instead of letting professionals lead the work, politicians have got in the way,’’ she said. ‘‘I’ve seen more a blame game between them than coordination.”
Some criticism has also come from outside Spain, notably Italy.
Walter Ricciardi, one of Italy’s top health experts, said it was “madness” that women had been allowed to march through Madrid last weekend.
“These big rallies do a favor to the virus, instead of obstructing it,” Dr. Ricciardi said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC. “We have been saying that Italy was only the first European country that was affected, but that this would then happen to the other countries as well.”
While Spain has long been praised for having one of Europe’s most advanced public health systems, Madrid hospitals are scrambling to find more face masks and add beds to cope with the growing rate of coronavirus cases.
At Madrid’s La Paz hospital, the gym has been turned into a makeshift sleeping area. In the Catalan town of Igualada, which is under lockdown, the mayor described the situation in the local hospital as “desperate.”
Part of the challenge in Spain is that health care is largely in the hands of regional administrations rather than the central government.
As in Italy, there are concerns about tightening the screw too far on the movement of people in Spain, which is heavily reliant on its services industry, particularly a tourism sector that accounts for 12 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product.
In a report published Friday, academics from the Esade university warned that the economic impact of coronavirus on Spain “will be more severe than in other countries because of its economic structure.”
Even as Spain prepares its state of emergency, Mr. Sánchez has continued to emphasize that Spain should coordinate its response to coronavirus with its European Union partners. So far those responses have been diffuse.
As a Socialist leader, Mr. Sánchez has also sounded acutely aware of what he learned from the euro debt crisis, when countries like Spain imposed stringent budget cuts and austerity measures.
“Europe knows it cannot repeat errors that end up burdening our economies,” Mr. Sánchez said Thursday.
Is COVID-19 fulfilling Bible prophecies of Revelation?
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has infected more than 128,000 people across the globe and killed at least 4,720 at the time of writing, sparking a global emergency and pandemic. The novel pathogen infects the respiratory system with flu-like symptoms and can develop into lethal pneumonia.
On Wednesday, March 11, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said infections have increased 13-fold outside of mainland China.
The rapid spread of the deadly pathogen has led many to speculate its mysterious origin.
While some conspiracy theorists have said the virus was accidentally released by a Chinese laboratory, others have said the virus was foretold by the 16th century mystic Nostradamus.
Hardline Christians have also taken to social media to share bizarre claims the coronavirus is linked to passages in the Bible.
Richard Sole posted on Twitter: “Widespread pestilence and plague under Trump.
“Is coronavirus the prophesied ‘Plague’ in the Book of Revelation?”
Ka Malaika said: “What if Corona Virus is the beast that was talked about in the Book of Revelation”
Another Twitter user said: “Pestilence is in the Book of Revelation, and y’all supposed about the Coronavirus because????? … HES COMING BACK”
Lorenzo Flavian also said: “The Coronavirus has just become biblical. It’s beginning to resemble bible verses from the book of revelation.
I’m not a religious guy but I study everything.”
Many people who follow literal interpretations of the Bible believe the world will be ravaged by plague and destruction in the end times.
The events foretold before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ were described by John the Apostle in the Book of Revelation.
The Book of Revelation contains the final chapters of the Bible that outline the hat will happen to humanity once the bell tolls.
In Revelation 6, the Apostle John described the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The Horsemen are said to represent War, Famine, Death and Pestilence or Plague.
According to evangelist Gerald Flurry, coronavirus can be interpreted as one of the four harbingers of doom.
In an article for The Trumpet, he said: “These horsemen symbolise the endtime culmination of the most devastating woes endured by mankind because of his rebellion against his Creator!”
But the Book of Revelation is not the only biblical scripture to supposedly offer insight into future places and epidemics.
Mr Flurry said: “Jesus Christ Himself said pandemics of pestilence would happen before His return: ‘For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be … pestilences … in divers places’.
“Pestilence in this context means disease outbreaks on a massive scale.”
And yet, despite the worrying claims, there is no indication the coronavirus is a biblical plague.
Although about 3.4 percent of the people who were infected with COVID-19 have died, it is still too early to determine how deadly the virus is.
Because the pandemic is still a developing situation, the number of infected and dead is rapidly changing.
But the virus is known to most severely affect the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
The WHO chief has also said countries like China and South Korea have already demonstrated the virus can be contained and controlled.
Is China the source of all our woes?
So what are we to believe people? Leave your comments below.
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