COVID-19 cases in Spain, where the health sector has been hit hard, rise to 124,736 – pushing the figure above Italy’s.
Spain has seen a drop in the number of people dying from COVID-19 for the second day in a row.
The number of deaths related to coronavirus now stands at 11,744 – up from 10,935 the previous day.
The 809 extra deaths in the last 24 hours was down from 932 on Friday.
It came as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was expected to announce a new extension to a COVID-19 lockdown that has prevented most Spaniards from leaving their homes for three weeks.
The total number of cases rose to 124,736 on Saturday, up from 117,710 yesterday, the country’s health ministry said.
The figures have, for now, put Spain’s infection total ahead of Italy’s, behind the US, as the second highest in the world.
However, the latest data from Italy is expected later today.
Spain has implemented a lockdown involving restrictions requiring people to stay at home and a shutdown of all non-essential industries.
The suggestion that deaths are starting to fall will come as an optimistic sign for the country’s beleaguered health sector.
Spain’s doctors and nurses have released clips of each other cutting up plastic rubbish bags to use as personal protective equipment.
Many say their situation is worse than that of others in some countries, with more than 15,000 of them sick or self-isolating, unable to help patients.
The health ministry says that’s around 14.7% of the country’s confirmed cases, but the concentration is higher in the capital Madrid – 21%.
Mobile phone footage has appeared on social media showing people attached to oxygen tanks packed into hospital corridors, apparently waiting or unable to find space in wards.
Spain’s health service, like Italy’s, is normally run at regional level and although the central government took control by declaring a ‘state of alarm’ on 14 March, authorities have struggled to get the extra staff and protective equipment they have needed.
Tomas Toranzo, president of the doctors’ union group CESM, said: “The explosion of cases in Spain is not normal… it has been very poorly managed since the beginning.”
Europe’s three worst-hit countries – Italy, Spain and France – account for more half the global death toll.