By Agence France-Presse
Coronavirus infections in Spain have passed the 2,000 mark with 48 deaths, the health ministry announced Wednesday, making it Europe’s second most severe outbreak after Italy.
As of 6:00 pm (1700 GMT) there were 2,140 cases in Spain, up from 1,639 on Tuesday, a ministry statement said.
Madrid is the worst-hit region in Spain, with half of the confirmed cases and 31 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 flights from Italy.
The culture ministry said Wednesday that museums in Madrid, including the Prado which displays masterpieces by Francisco Goya and Diego Velazquez, as well as the Reina Sofia, home of Pablo Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece “Guernica”, would close from Thursday until further notice.
But health ministry emergencies coordinator Fernando 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 stop the epidemic, or in a worst-case scenario up to four months.
The government has promised to help the tourism sector in the world’s number two tourist destination.