MADRID, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Spain has reported over 1,000 deaths of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the Spanish Ministry for Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services confirmed on Friday.
According to the ministry, 1,002 people have now lost their lives from COVID-19, in comparison with the 767 deaths a day ago.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is approaching the 20,000 mark, with 19,980 cases confirmed by midday Friday -- an increase of 2,833 cases from Thursday.
The number of people who have now recovered from COVID-19 has climbed to 1,588, up from Thursday's figure of 1,107.
Speaking at a daily press conference, the Director of the Health Ministry's Coordination Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies, Fernando Simon, warned that the total number of people infected was probably more than the official number of 19,980.
"It is probably that the data undervalues the total transmission. We suspect that the transmission is higher," he said, adding that even though this was probably the case, the ministry's data "allows us to know the spread" of the coronavirus.
Over 10,000 people are now in hospital receiving treatment for the coronavirus and the government has called in an extra 30,000 health workers, including retired medical staff and students, to help look after them.
"It is true there are some intensive care units where they are stressed and under pressure. Intensive care specialists are working to establish a means to make access to them as homogenous as possible," said Simon.
Spain is working hard to prepare for the peak of infections, with several hotels in Madrid being prepared to take non-critical patients in order to free up space in the capital's main hospitals for COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the Spanish Military's emergency response unit has been disinfecting hospitals, airports and transport hubs around the country, while police are patrolling the streets through the country to ensure the virtual lockdown imposed by the State of Alarm is respected.