PROSECUTORS in Spain have launched a judicial inquiry after Spanish troops disinfecting nursing homes found some residents living in squalor among the infectious bodies of people who authorities suspect have died from coronavirus.

Margarita Robles, the Spanish defence minister, said bodies were discovered at several nursing homes, but did not give locations for them or the exact numbers of residents involved.

She said the elderly were “completely left to fend for themselves, or even dead, in their beds”.

Robles told the TV channel Telecinco that the government was “going to be strict and inflexible when dealing with the way older people are treated in retirement homes”.

“The army, during certain visits, found some older people completely abandoned, sometimes even dead in their beds,” she said.

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The shock discovery yesterday came as Spain announced a record daily rise of 6584 new coronavirus infections, bringing the overall total to 39,673. The number of deaths also jumped by a record number of 514 to 2696. Authorities in Madrid took over a public skating rink yesterday after the city morgue overflowed.

To date, a total of 1535 people have died in the hard-hit Spanish capital, more than half of the national total, and the region has more than 12,350 infections.

“This is the tough week,” Fernando Simon, head of Spain’s health emergency centre, told a daily briefing.

He also said that 5400 health workers have been infected by the coronavirus that is relentlessly marching across the world, around 14 % of the country’s total cases.

Security forces guarded the outside of the Palacio de Hielo ice skating complex on Madrid’s north-eastern outskirts as hearses entered the building via an underground car park.

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Madrid authorities took up the rink’s offer after the city’s municipal funeral service said it could take no more coronavirus bodies until it restocked with more protective equipment.

The city government said bodies would be held at the rink until they can be taken to be cremated or buried.

Madrid has also adapted two city hotels as hospitals to help with the overflow of virus patients, and plans to take over five others. The city’s hotel association has offered 40 hotels to help medical workers.

Madrid also set up a field hospital in the Ifema trade fair complex that recently housed the UN COP25 climate conference.

Meanwhile, several major airlines have no spare seats to bring UK passengers home from Spain this week, it has been claimed.

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Consumer group Which? said travellers wanting to leave the UK’s most popular holiday destination before it closes hotels tomorrow night as part of a coronavirus shutdown are unable to book flights with Ryanair, easyJet or Jet2. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is urging all British travellers to return to the UK as soon as possible, warning that further closures to air routes may occur without notice.

Last week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said as many as a million British nationals could be travelling abroad. Many are at risk of being stranded due to airlines grounding planes because of a drop in demand and an increase in travel restrictions, although airlines are operating some rescue flights.

Sandra and Lewis Will had a flight booked with Ryanair from Alicante to Aberdeen on Thursday, but that was cancelled. They re-booked for Sunday, only for that flight to also be cancelled.

Sandra Will said: “We are in our 70s and I have recently been released from a Spanish hospital after having a mini stroke, so this kind of stress does not help. We are in Spain under lockdown, hoping at some point there will be rescue flights.”