Issued on: 30/03/2020 – 13:21Modified: 30/03/2020 – 13:21

Spain’s health emergency chief Fernando Simon tested positive for coronavirus, health officials said Monday, as the number of confirmed cases rose to 85,195, surpassing China’s infection tally. 

Simon, who led the country’s response to the coronavirus epidemic and maintained regular contact with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, tested positive for the virus, health official Maria Jose Sierra told a news conference on Monday. 

The announcement came as Spain on Monday became the third country to surpass China in infections after the United States and Italy.

Sierra announced she was replacing Simon as head of Spain’s centre for health emergencies and said some 12,298 health workers had tested positive for coronavirus in Spain, equivalent to around 14 percent of the country’s confirmed cases. 

With a population of only 47 million to China’s 1.4 billion, Spain’s number of infections reached 85,195, a rise of 8 percent from the previous day. Spain also reported 812 new deaths in the last 24 hours, raising its overall fatalities from the virus to 7,340, according to health ministry figures.

It was the first decline in the number of deaths in a 24-hour period since Thursday in Spain, which has the world’s second-most-deadly outbreak after Italy. Spain recorded 838 virus deaths on Sunday.

Officials have pointed to a slower growth rate for both deaths and confirmed cases and expressed hope that the peak of the outbreak was approaching.

Sanchez on Saturday announced even stricter lockdown measures, forcing all non-essential workers to stay home for the next two weeks.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)


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