Spanish army finds elderly patients dead, abandoned in retirement homes

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Spanish soldiers have found elderly patients abandoned and dead at retirement homes.

It comes as an ice rink inside a Madrid shopping centre has been turned into a temporary morgue to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases.

Spain’s army has been deployed to help disinfect retirement homes as case rapidly rise.

The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged to 2,696 on Tuesday after 514 people died within 24 hours. It now has 39,673 confirmed cases.

“We are going to be strict and inflexible when dealing with the way old people are treated in these residences,” Defence Minister Margarita Robles said.

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

The country’s general prosecutor has launched an investigation.

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Madrid’s city hall has taken the decision to turn the Palacio de Hielo ice rink into a temporary morgue to deal with a rise in deaths in the capital.

Earlier, the city hall said the city’s 14 public cemeteries would stop accepting more bodies because the staff there did not have adequate protective gear.

The improvised morgue would start to be used “in the coming hours”, the regional government of Madrid said.

“This is a temporary and exceptional measure which aims to mitigate the pain of the family members of the victims and the situation hospitals in Madrid are facing.”

In Madrid, struggling with Spain’s worst outbreak, the municipal funeral home announced it would stop collecting bodies from Tuesday because of a shortage of equipment.