The Spanish epidemic has become a painful example of the tendency of one government after another to ignore the experiences of countries where the virus has already struck.
Coffins of coronavirus victims, to be buried or incinerated, were stored in an underground parking lot at an unused funeral house in Barcelona on Thursday.Credit...Samuel Aranda for The New York Times
MADRID — At the end of January, a German tourist became Spain’s first coronavirus patient. At the time, the health threat seemed for the nation as remote as the tiny Spanish island of La Gomera, where he was treated. Two weeks later, the German walked out of hospital, and Spain celebrated being again “virus free.”
It proved a very brief respite. But even as more cases surfaced, Spanish officials continued to stress that the coronavirus was being imported, notably onto another island by tourists from Italy, where hospitals were already under siege. The story line was that Spain faced an external threat, but did not risk a domestic epidemic.
But then on Feb. 26, a resident of Seville, who had not done any traveling, tested positive. A week later, another man in the region of Valencia became Spain’s first coronavirus victim, starting a grim count that is approaching 14,000 dead. Spain now ranks second in the world, behind the United States, in total number of cases. Read more >>