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Spain pays tribute to victims and heroes of coronavirus pandemic

A tribute was held for COVID-19 victims at Madrid's Royal Palace
A tribute was held for COVID-19 victims at Madrid's Royal Palace   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
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Relatives of some of those who have died in the coronavirus pandemic in Spain joined the country’s royalty for a solemn ceremony in Madrid on Thursday.

Tributes were paid to the victims of COVID-19, as well as the essential workers who have been on the frontlines fighting the disease, in a country that has the fourth highest official death toll in Europe.

Along with the relatives of around 100 people who have died, medical personnel, police and other essential workers took part in the ceremony along with King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, and members of the government at Madrid’s Royal Palace.

Manu Fernandez/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Spain's second Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias at the ceremonyManu Fernandez/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The guests were seated at a distance from each other to maintain social distancing, and wore masks.

The ceremony was broadcast live on TV and online.

Aroa López, a nurse from the Vall d’Hebron hospital in Barcelona, urged the government to protect the public health system, as she recalled how health workers made videocalls between relatives and dying patients, or held the hands of those who were dying.

“Who will take care of us if the person who takes care of us cannot do it?” she implored. “Let us never forget the lesson learned.”

Juanjo Martin/Pool via AP
King Felipe VI of Spain speaks at the ceremonyJuanjo Martin/Pool via AP

Felipe VI said: “We have a moral obligation to always recognize and respect the dignity of the deceased and a civic duty to promote the best values that underlie our society.”

Spain has officially recorded 28,413 victims who died after testing positive for the COVID-19 disease, although excess mortality figures suggest the actual figure is thousands higher. The country is grappling with dozens of fresh outbreaks after it emerged from a strict lockdown last month.