Spain searches for uniformed way to count the dead during the coronavirus pandemic

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MADRID – Spain’s official gazette has published Friday a government order for the country’s 17 autonomous regions to unify the criteria on counting the dead in the coronavirus pandemic.

The government says 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 or not symptoms and no matter where the death takes place.

That figure on Thursday rose above the 19,000 mark, with a total of more than 182,000 infections. But the accounting system leaves out the patients who died with symptoms but not tested.

The difference is significant.

The northeastern Catalonia region, for example, had 3,700 fatalities recorded earlier this week with tests but only in hospitals, not at centers for pensioners or private homes. And when it looked at the data of death certificates in funeral houses it found 3,200 additional fatalities that could potentially be linked to the COVID-19.

The scale of the tragedy at nursing homes is also a source of confusion. Regional governments are reporting that over 11,000 have died with the virus or its symptoms in these supervised facilities, a figure that is also believed to be inconsistent because each of the Spanish regions has different criteria when it comes to include or not cases unconfirmed by tests, or how to count those who die at day-care centers for the disabled.

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