Spain holds minute’s silence for COVID-19 victims, begins 10-day mourning period

epa08382878 Members of the Spanish Security Forces and the Spanish Fire Brigade join the health workers of La Coruna Hospital to observe a minute of silence as a tribute to coronavirus victims before the daily gratitude applause to thank medical and health care personnel in La Coruna, Spain, 24 April 2020. Spain is under lockdown to avoid the spread of the pandemic COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. EPA-EFE/CABALAR

Spain held a minute’s silence yesterday (27 May) to pay tribute to the more than 27,000 people who have died from COVID-19 in the country as it begins a 10-day mourning period. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.

At midday yesterday, politicians, the royal family, hospital staff, police officers, civil servants and citizens across the country paused to remember those lost in what has been one of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.  

Healthcare workers, who have led the campaign against COVID-19 and account for roughly 50,000 of the 237,000 confirmed cases since the outbreak began in Spain, stood outside hospitals and medical centres to mark the moment of solemnity.

Spain’s hospital and ICU departments became overwhelmed when the outbreak peaked in late March and April with thousands of new cases and hundreds of deaths registered each day.

Figures have since dropped to more stable measures, with the number of daily fatalities staying under 100 for over a week.

The entire country is now in the process of scaling back the lockdown enforced to protect the healthcare system.

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Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez led some of his senior ministers and other officials in observing a socially-distanced minute’s silence outside his official Moncloa residence in Madrid.

King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia and their daughters, Leonor, Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofía, dressed in black, did the same outside the Zarzuela royal palace on the outskirts of the Spanish capital.

“Spain cries for so many thousands of compatriots that we have lost in this pandemic,” a message on the official Royal Household Twitter page said. “To everyone and their families, we owe our memory, our mourning and our love.”

Spanish lawmakers interrupted a heated debate in Parliament to observe their own minute’s silence. “We all feel like the orphans of so many of our elders,” Meritxell Batet, the parliamentary speaker said.

Some 86% of those who died from coronavirus in Spain were over the age of 70, according to the health ministry.

Flags on all public buildings, naval vessels and Spanish consulates and embassies will fly at half-mast for the next 10 days, the longest period of mourning in the country’s democratic history. The black ribbon has become another symbol of the period of mourning and can be seen pinned to flags adorning balconies in Spanish streets and incorporated onto logos on social media accounts.

Spain’s professional football players, who have recently been allowed back to training while the league remains suspended until mid-June, stopped to pay tribute to the victims of COVID-19 in Spain.

Football club Real Madrid shared a video of their first team standing two meters apart in a circle formation. “Real Madrid observed a minute’s silence at today’s training session in memory of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the club said on its website.

Journalists at Spain’s EFE Agency in Madrid also marked the occasion at midday.

However, the topic of an official period of mourning has fueled controversy in the world of Spanish politics, with Socialist Party leader Sánchez’s rivals saying it is being done too early.

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Spain paid tribute on Monday (23 March) to front-line staff battling a worsening coronavirus outbreak that has infected nearly 4,000 health workers, who make up more than a tenth of known cases in the country.

(Edited by Frédéric Simon)

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