May 26, 2020 / 11:24 AM / a month ago

Thousands of Spanish retirees vanish from state pension rolls as coronavirus hits

Relatives of a patient who suffers from COVID-19 react, as staff members from La Paz hospital attend a protest to ask for more health personnel in hospitals, primary care and nursing homes, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid, Spain, May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Juan Medina

MADRID (Reuters) - About 30,000 more pensioners dropped off Spain’s state system in the first four months of this year than in the previous year as the coronavirus hit the country, the Labour Ministry said on Tuesday.

A total of 205,638 pensioners left the state rolls from January through April in 2020, ministry data showed.

The ministry attributed the higher number of people in part to the coronavirus epidemic.

“We have to take into account how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the death rate of the overall population and, most of all, the elders,” the ministry said in a statement.

The total figure was 30,000 more than in the same period in 2019, and 25,000 more than the average between 2015 and 2019, according to the Labour Ministry’s data.

Spain has been one of the worst-hit countries in Europe with almost 30,000 fatalities due to the coronavirus registered. Officials have said that more than 80% of the victims of the disease are people aged 70 and older.

State pensioners statistics include retired people as well as widows and orphans. Generally about 90% of those who drop out of the system are retired or widowed people who do so as they die.

At the same time fewer pensioners enrolled in the system during the period, though the ministry attributed that mostly to the lockdown that led to the closure of all pension system offices in the country.

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Belen Carreño; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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