İrem UZUN -TDO- Spain's armed forces asked NATO for humanitarian assistance to fight the novel coronavirus as the national death toll touched 2,700 and infections soared towards 40,000. On their website, NATO reported that “The EADRCC has received a request for international assistance from the Armed Forces of Spain in their response to the global pandemic of the coronavirus COVID-19. The Armed Forces of Spain are acting in favor of civil population to mitigate the virus spread. In order to prevent the spread of the virus in the military units of the Armed Forces of Spain and in the civil population, international partners are asked to provide assistance to the Ministry of Defense of Spain in supplying humanitarian assistance.”

With the pandemic spreading across the world, Spain has been one of the worst-hit countries, logging the third highest number of deaths with the latest toll standing at 2,696 after another 514 people died over the past 24 hours. Despite an unprecedented lockdown imposed on March 14, both deaths and infections have continued to mount, with the Spanish army called in to join efforts to curb its spread. With authorities stepping up testing, the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 rose by nearly 20 percent to 39,673, the health ministry said. Health authorities said it would soon become clear whether the lockdown was having the desired effect. “This is a very hard week because we’re in the first stages of overcoming the virus, a phase in which we are approaching the peak of the epidemic,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told a televised news conference.

The government has said it is working on plans to produce in Spain the equipment needed to battle coronavirus.  "We are starting to talk about a war industry, a war economy and it is essential," Industry Minister Maria Reyes Maroto told a news conference. With the numbers still spiraling, the government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sought parliamentary approval to extend the state of emergency for an extra two weeks, until April 11 -the day before Easter- in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

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