Spanish soldiers are finding the bodies of dead nursing home residents, abandoned in their beds and left to die of coronavirus, HuffPost reports. Spain’s Defense Minister, Margarita Robles, said she intends to bring “the full weight of the law” on the administrators of those facilities.
In Spain, the military has been pressed into service, according to Reuters, spraying massive amounts of disinfectant everywhere. Initially they focused on train stations, but have recently turned their attention to health-care facilities — such as nursing homes — where they made some horrifying discoveries, namely, they came upon dead bodies that were abandoned and left to die of COVID-19, the respiratory illness that derives from the novel coronavirus.
According to a companion report in HuffPost Spain, in some cases the soldiers have found living patients lying next to their deceased roommates, also abandoned.
Spain’s Defense Minister promised to hold the administrators of those facilities accountable.
“We will be unforgiving and the full weight of the law will fall on those who do not fulfill their obligation,” she said.
Un día más nuestros esfuerzos principales están en las residencias???????? para preservar la salud de nuestros mayores.
¡Somos muchos los actores que tenemos el compromiso de estar implicados en ello!????#OperaciónBalmis #EsteVirusLoParamosUnidos pic.twitter.com/DwRf9xWDqE
— UME (@UMEgob) March 23, 2020
The bodies aren’t being left unattended as a form of pure negligence, however. The situation is nuanced and has been exacerbated by several factors. For example, whenever someone dies of COVID-19 in a hospital or other health care facility, Spanish authorities are requesting that the body not be moved until it can be examined by a doctor. But doctors are so busy that those bodies will sometimes be unable to be examined for long periods of time.
Madrid politician Ignacio Aguado is calling for the Spanish government to deploy military doctors to help out in nursing homes.
“What is the Government of Spain waiting for?… Every hour counts,” he said.
Nursing homes have been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic in Spain. In one facility, 19 people have died.
Meanwhile, Madrid’s municipal funeral home has stopped accepting new bodies. Similarly, cemeteries are no longer accepting bodies, because their employees don’t have the proper protective equipment to wear while handling the remains. To that end, an ice rink has been pressed into service to serve as a temporary morgue, according to Raw Story.
“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,” a statement from the city’s government read in part.
As of this writing, COVID-19 has claimed 2,600 lives and has infected over 35,000 in Spain. The death toll from coronavirus is rising faster there than in any other country so far.