Concern over method of calculating official death figures

Disinfecting work takes place at a care home for the elderly in Zaragoza..
Disinfecting work takes place at a care home for the elderly in Zaragoza.. / EFE
  • Government follows a European standard as doctors certify many unaccounted deaths as suspected Covid-19 cases

There were growing reports this week from health workers and undertakers that the number of deaths reported as due to coronavirus was significantly less than reality. Opposition parties called on the government to explain the inconsistencies.

Health minister, Salvador Illa said, "We are guided by systems laid out that have to be followed so that everyone has standard data. All European countries have to communicate cases confirmed by laboratory and that is what the Government of Spain is doing." Journalists took the minister's comments to mean that if a test was not carried out, the death was not counted.

The government has ordered burial registries to carry out an urgent recheck of their data, but many staff are not working and death certificates are lacking cause-of-death information.

Much criticism revolved around the failure to record the cause of death in old people's homes. Reports on Wednesday said that 4,750 deaths had been recorded in Madrid's homes since the crisis but only 781 definitely attributed to Covid-19.

In Malaga, doctors have been certifying at least ten deaths a day suspected of being due to the virus but not confirmed.