Spain in English

Coronavirus in Spain full update (20 March)

Official figures released by the Spanish Health Ministry at 12 noon on Friday 20 March now confirm 19,980 known cases of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Spain, which is 2,833 more than yesterday (an increase of 16%, compared to an increase of 25% the previous day). 1,002 people are now also known to have died from the pandemic in Spain (up by 235 from yesterday). 10,542 people are in hospital, with 1,141 people in intensive care. 1,588 people have now made a full recovery.

Of the official figures announced by Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Centre for Health Alerts, 7,165 confirmed cases are known to be in the Madrid region.

There are now 3,270 cases in Catalonia, 1,465 in the Basque Country, 1,287 in Andalusia, 1,044 in Castilla La Mancha, 1,105 in Valencia and 497 in La Rioja (northern Spain).

Figures for other regions are as follows: Aragón 360, Asturias 344, Balearic Islands 203, Canary Islands 287, Cantabria 144, Castilla y León 1147, Extremadura 297, Galicia 578, Melilla 24, Murcia 204, Navarra 554.

This report is being updated through the day with further news related to Coronavirus in Spain. However, official statistics will only be updated in our reports published just after noon each day.

ALSO READ: ‘This virus we will stop together’ – video 


On Thursday Spain ordered all hotels to close by 26 March at the latest in an attempt to further stop the spread of Coronavirus. The measure was published in the Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE) on Thursday evening.

It states ‘the suspension of opening to the public of all hotels and similar lodgings, tourist accommodation and other short-term accommodation … situated on national territory.’

Spain is the second top tourist destination in the world. All establishments that offer short term stays, including guest houses, tourist apartments, short-stay campsites and caravan parks must also close.

Earlier this week the UK Foreign Office told ‘British travellers who are currently in Spain and who wish to return to the UK are advised to make travel plans to do so as soon as possible’.

In Madrid, the most badly affected area in Spain for Coronavirus, authorities are already converting hotels into medical care facilities to treat people with mild cases in a bid to ease pressure on hospitals fighting the pandemic.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain full update (19 March)


Also on Thursday, Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa gave a press briefing to report on the initiatives launched to strengthen the public health system in Spain to combat and try to contain Covid-19 as quickly as possible.

Health Minister Salvador Illa and second deputy PM Pablo Iglesias, giving a press conference on 19 March 2020. (Pool Moncloa / J.M.Cuadrado)

Illa was joined by Pablo Iglesias, Spain’s second deputy prime minister and leader of the Podemos party that forms a coalition government with Pedro Sánchez’s socialist PSOE party. A week ago it was announced that the partner of Iglesias, Spain’s Minister of Equality Irene Montero, had tested positive for Coronavirus.

Regarding the additional 50,000 professionals for existing healthcare teams that Spain has announced this week, health minister Illa explained that they will comprise a group of 7,633 R4 and R5 (in their final year of training) resident doctors in all specialised fields. The doctors will have their contracts extended so they can continue their work in the health services.

They will be joined by almost 11,000 medical and nursing professionals who took specialised selection exams and who, although having obtained a sufficiently high score, were not selected.

Furthermore, 14,000 doctors and nurses who retired in the last two years will be able to return to work depending on specific healthcare needs. Illa said that there are also 10,200 final-year nursing and 7,000 final-year medicine students available to provide healthcare support.

ALSO READ: Despite lockdown, Spaniards applaud health workers from balconies every evening

In addition to these measures to strengthen technical and professional resources, Illa said, ‘we can add the financial support that will be provided by the government of Spain to the regional governments for tackling the extraordinary costs stemming from this exceptional situation.’

‘An initial amount of 210m euros will be distributed in the next few hours to help regional governments build a rapid response for the most pressing action,’ explained Illa. The amount allocated to each region will depend on the number of people affected and the population size.

Illa also said that action has also been stepped up for the first shipments of fast tests for Coronavirus to start arriving in the coming days, as well as to increase the number of tests being performed on the most vulnerable population groups and people at home with mild symptoms.

Regarding the reports of seizure of masks and other protective equipment, Salvador Illa said that ‘the government of Spain has not seized any masks or other specialised material but has rather been receiving information about stock levels, with procurement taking place through standard purchases or donations, and subsequently distributing this material to the various regions.’ So far, over 1.5 m surgical masks have been collected through purchases and donations – ‘a number that will be significantly increased over the coming days,’ he added.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain – full update (18 March)

Editor’s note: 

At Spain in English we’re always keen to also publish positive stories and features about life in Spain – not just the current news. With all cultural and sporting events currently on hold, as well as travel and gastronomic excursions, we welcome on-going contributions from all of you who’d like to send us articles for publication. Although we are unable to currently pay for contributions, we will certainly credit you and share the articles across our social media network (if of interest) – and/or also link to your own blogs or other sites. We currently welcome upbeat, positive and fun articles – perhaps how you’re coping with the ‘lockdown’ in your own area of Spain – or how your community is responding, or recommendations of help to others. We have a dedicated ‘Opinion, Blogs & Spanish Experiences‘ section where your articles will appear. We will edit for clarity and length only – and we reserve the right to not publish. Articles should be sent via email to (preferably with a photo and credit details), and should be around 500 words (800 to 1,000 max). We will try to respond to everyone, but please be patient with us. We’re a very small team but with big ambitions! Please stay safe. Thank you for reading and following us.

Below are the numbers to call for each region of Spain for information and assistance in the event of possible cases of Coronavirus – as issued by the Spanish health authorities.

The numbers to call for each region of Spain.

Click here for further information (in Spanish) regarding Coronavirus from the Spanish Health Ministry.

Up-to-date WHO advice and facts (in English) about the Coronavirus epidemic can be found here:

Our previous reports on Coronavirus in Spain:

ALSO READ: ‘This virus we will stop together’ – video 

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain full update (19 March)

ALSO READ: Despite lockdown, Spaniards applaud health workers from balconies every evening

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain – full update (18 March)

ALSO READ: UEFA Euro 2020 postponed as Coronavirus hits global sport

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain – full update (16 March)

ALSO READ: Spain to close its land borders

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain update (15 March)

ALSO READ: Spain officially in lockdown from midnight (14 March)

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain update – Spain ‘state of alarm’, Catalonia ‘lockdown’ (13 March)

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain update – 4 Catalan towns in lockdown (12 March)

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain update – 11 March

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain update – 10 March

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain update – 8 March

ALSO READ: Over 70 cases of Coronavirus in Spain, as WHO also raises risk alert

ALSO READ: Coronavirus confirmed in Tenerife and Catalonia – via Italy

ALSO READ: Two deaths from Coronavirus in northern Italy, as region faces lockdown

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