Spain reported five new deaths due to the novel coronavirus on Friday, bringing the toll to eight as officials shuttered elderly care centers across Madrid after a spike in cases.
The disease claimed the lives of three elderly men in the Madrid region, as well as that of an 87-year-old woman in Badalona near Barcelona and a man of the same age in the northeastern city of Zaragoza, regional health authorities said.
Among the newly reported deaths was that of a 76-year-old man who frequented a seniors center in Valdemoro just south of Madrid where 15 other users and staff members have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
His death follows that of a 99-year-old woman earlier this week who used another day-care facility for the elderly in Madrid and it prompted health officials to order all 213 such facilities in the region, both daycare and residential, to be shut for a month.
"This decision has been taken because users of seniors centers are especially vulnerable to COVID-19," the regional government of Madrid said in a statement, before adding there was an "extraordinary and imminent threat to public health".
Spain reported its first coronavirus death on Tuesday evening, saying the victim had died on Feb. 13 but was only diagnosed with COVID-19 during a post-mortem analysis in a development which has worried officials.
Since then the number has jumped to eight.
These deaths "show that the virus arrived earlier than thought" in Spain, Antoni Trilla, head of preventative medicine and epidemiology at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, told El Pais newspaper.
So far, all of the victims have been people in high-risk categories, elderly or suffering from a pre-existing condition.