Desperate doctors and nurses have resorted to protecting themselves from infection with bin bags as medical supplies run dangerously low in some hospitals. Samantha Gonzalez, a 52-year-old nurse who works at the Txagorritxu hospitals in Vitoria, said colleagues were forced to find coronavirus patients’ pulses and veins by touch as the protective glasses given to them were such poor quality. “This is not the first world anymore – it’s a war,” she told Bloomberg news.

Healthcare workers have also complained about shortages of other equipment, such as masks and disposable clothing.

The pandemic claimed the first life of a healthcare worker in Spain last week, a 52-year-old nurse in the northern Basque Country.

And doctors, nurses and other support workers have accounted for over 10 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases, said Fernando Simon, the health ministry’s emergency coordinator.

He added: “There will be stress and a problem in some places. The pressure on the system will be high.

“This collapse is being talked about could happen in some places but it will not be generalised.”

Spain has witnessed a terrifying increase of cases in recent days, with some 29,909 infections and 1,813 deaths, according to yesterday’s figures.

In a desperate attempt to ease the pressure on the Madrid region’s hospitals, soldiers have been used to move patients to makeshift field facilities set up at a conference centre in the capital.

The hospital will have 5,500 beds, which would make it the largest coronavirus facility in Europe.

The Spanish government said over the weekend it plans to distribute another 500,000 masks to healthcare workers and 800,000 for patients. It said it had also bought more than 640,000 coronavirus text kits.

Up to 52,000 extra workers have been called up to assist the country’s health system, including around 14,000 retired doctors and nurses.

Around 2,850 soldiers have been deployed to disinfect airports, ports, and carry out other tasks to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Sunday signalled he will seek parliamentary approval to extend the state of emergency to April 11 after the death toll rose by almost 400 over the weekend.

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Spain is now the fourth-worse affected country by the global pandemic, behind Italy, China and the United States.

Mr Sanchez warned: “Unfortunately the number of diagnosed cases is going to rise in the coming days. The worst is yet to come, and it is pushing our capacities to the limit.

“The hardest part remains, and it will put our healthcare system on the ropes.”

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In a rallying cry for support, he added: “We have to reach the end of next week very strong. The risk is everywhere, but the damage is concreted in a few places.”

The Madrid region has been hit by 60 percent of all of Spain’s coronavirus fatalities to date.

Mr Sanchez continued: “The coronavirus is a catastrophe that humanity wasn’t prepare for. These seven days have changed us. We look upon all life near to us as life at risk. We have changed how we view our neighbours, who are no longer seen as strangers. This crisis is bringing out the best in us.”

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