Spain uses new guidelines to count virus deaths

MADRID (AP) — Spain said there are now 19,478 deaths of patients who tested positive for the new coronavirus, nearly 350 more than the number reported one day earlier, and 188,068 confirmed infections with over 5,000 new ones.

Health authorities are reshuffling the way to track the pandemic’s impact in the country with new guidelines to count the dead, while an effort to make more tests is counting hundreds of patients cured or without symptoms that weren’t recorded before.

The government said that it’s following World Health Organization guidance and insists on counting only those who die having tested positive for the virus, whether they show symptoms or not and no matter where the death takes place.

The Director of the Health Emergency Coordination Centre, Fernando Simón, said that an effort to rein in a diversity of data from 17 Spanish regions is leading to corrections in past statistics.

“If the data is distorted it becomes difficult to take scientific decisions,” Simón has said in a televised press conference.

Spain is mulling how to safely implement an incremental way out of one of Europe’s strictest lockdown imposed in mid-March to spread the impact of the new virus.