June 4, 2020 / 3:21 PM / a month ago

Questions arise over Spain's COVID-19 data, as deaths hit 27,133

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s overall death toll from the coronavirus edged higher on Thursday, though discrepancies between regional and national data raised questions over the methodology used by the government to produce the tally.

FILE PHOTO: Members of Madrid's Emergency Service (SUMMA) wearing protective equipment wheel a patient suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) out from an ambulance as they transfer him to another hospital amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid, Spain, April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

The ministry has stopped providing a daily death toll but reported a total of 27,133 deaths, five more than on Wednesday. Confirmed cases climbed by 195 from the previous day to 240,660.

Spain is implementing a new methodology for logging deaths and cases, leading to fluctuations in its statistics and frequent revisions of data, which officials say are likely to continue for some time.

Between Sunday and Tuesday the ministry’s official death toll remained unchanged at 27,128 even though several regions reported new deaths.

Health Emergency Coordinator Fernando Simon attributed the discrepancy to regional authorities checking and modifying their past data.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization put Spain’s death toll at 27,940 on Thursday, more than 800 higher than the government’s figure.

Speaking at a news conference, Simon said the WHO had added up daily figures provided by the ministry without subtracting deaths that were subsequently eliminated from the official toll.

“I don’t know if the WHO’s data is far-removed from reality or not, we’ll find out in the coming days,” he said.

Spain has been one of the worst hit countries in Europe. The second phase of a nationwide antibody study of 60,000 people confirmed earlier findings that around 5% of Spaniards had been infected by the virus, regardless of whether they showed symptoms or not.

“Provinces in the centre of the peninsula and those around Madrid continue to have a higher occurrence of the virus than the rest,” said Marina Pollan, director of the National Epidemiology Centre.

Reporting by Nathan Allen; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Frances Kerry

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