How coronavirus took just weeks to overwhelm Spain

In 18 days a few hundred cases escalated to more fatalities than China

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On Saturday 7 March, 24 hours before hundreds of thousands of people rallied across Spain to mark International Women’s Day, and 9,000 faithful Vox supporters arrived in Madrid for a far-right jamboree, authorities in the northern region of La Rioja were taking some difficult decisions.

That weekend, not quite three weeks ago, Spain had confirmed just 430 coronavirus cases. After 60 of those were traced to a funeral in the neighbouring Basque country, La Rioja’s regional government ordered the quarantining of entire blocks of a neighbourhood in the small town of Haro.

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