The Spanish Health Ministry announced the development on Monday morning as the country is set to continue its lockdown. A total of 39,673 people have tested positive for the virus which is an increase of 6,584 cases. The rise comes a day after the Spanish Prime Minister sought to extend the lockdown as he wanred the “worst is still to come”.

A nationwide 15-day state of emergency was first announced on March 14th as Spain’s health service struggled to deal with the huge influx of COVID-19 patients. 

Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday he would ask parliament to extend the state of emergency to April 11. 

Everyone in the nation of around 46 million people is barred from leaving home except for essential outings like buying food or seeking medical care.

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Mr Sanchez said he was confident the assembly approve the request to extend the strict measure until Easter Saturday. 

He outlined his vision at a press conference following his meeting with the heads of Spain’s regional governments. 

He said: “I know it is a drastic measure…but experts agree that it is an effective measure in the fight against coronavirus.

READ MORE: Spain’s healthcare system on the brink as coronavirus cases soar

Spanish prosecutors said an investigation had been launched.

The military has been brought in to help disinfect care homes in the Mediterranean country. 

Meanwhile, an ice rink in Madrid is to be used as a temporary mortuary for Covid-19 victims, officials said.

Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles told the private TV channel Telecinco that the government was “going to be strict and inflexible when dealing with the way older people are treated” in retirement residences. 

The ministry said staff at some care homes had fled after COVID1-19 cases were confirmed. 

She said: “The army, during certain visits, found some older people completely abandoned, sometimes even dead in their beds.”

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said elderly residents in retirement homes are “an absolute priority for the government”.

“We will exercise the most intensive monitoring of these centres,” she added.

The bodies of those found dead in care homes would normally be kept in refrigerators until they are collected by the funeral services, health officials said.

But because there is a chance the cause of death was coronavirus, the bodies will be left in the beds until funeral staff can collect them.

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