Coronavirus: Spain probes 19 deaths at Madrid retirement home

An ambulance makes its way though the Monte Hermoso retirement home, where 19 people may have died from the coronavirus, in Madrid on March 18, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID (AFP) - Spanish public prosecutors said on Wednesday (March 18) they have opened an investigation into a Madrid retirement home where 19 people may have died from the coronavirus.

The move comes amid mounting concern over conditions at retirement homes following a series of multiple deaths from the disease at other facilities in Spain - the second most affected European country with coronavirus - which have dominated headlines.

Relatives of residents at the privately-run Monte Hermoso facility in Madrid told AFP and other media that at least 70 of its 130 residents were infected and in isolation, and at least 15 had died from Covid-19.

The company that runs the facility told daily newspaper El Pais that 19 people who lived at the retirement home had died.

The public prosecutors' office for the province of Madrid said it has opened a criminal investigation after receiving a complaint from an association called the Patients Ombudsman saying that "at least" 19 people had died at the home.

In a letter, the president of the association denounced an "extreme lack of security and cleanliness, staff and means" at the facility.

On Wednesday, the regional government of Castile-La Mancha in the centre of Spain said 15 people had died due to the virus at a private care facility for seniors in the town of Tomelloso.

The coronavirus outbreak has had a "significant impact" on retirement homes, the health ministry's emergencies coordinator, Fernando Simon, told a news conference.

The ministry was working on a protocol to "reduce the risks in these types of centres", he added.

The regional government of Valencia in the southeast has said it will bring all retirement homes affected by a coronavirus outbreak, including private ones, under its control.

Spain has recorded over 13,700 confirmed cases of coronavirus and nearly 600 deaths, the bulk of them of elderly patients.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.