Spanish deaths surge close to 500

Deaths from coronavirus in Spain surged to 491 on Tuesday from 309 the day before, health officials have said.

The number of confirmed cases also soared by 2,000 to 11,178, as Spain closed its borders and maintained a partial lockdown on 47 million people.

Death tolls have increased elsewhere, with Iran reporting 135 more, taking its official total close to 1,000.

The EU is planning to ban all non-essential cross-border travel, as France started its own strict lockdown.

The EU ban, which applies across Europe’s Schengen free-travel zone, will be in place for at least 30 days. It will affect all but long-term residents, family members of EU nationals and diplomats, cross-border and healthcare workers, and people transporting goods.

EU leaders will discuss the measures via videoconference later on Tuesday.

French citizens who leave home must now carry a document detailing the reasons why, with fines for transgressors.

The latest World Heath Organization (WHO) figures list 173,000 infections globally and 7,000 deaths.

What is the latest from Spain?
Before the latest figures were released, at midnight Spain began stopping cars crossing its borders from France and Portugal. Only Spanish nationals, residents and cross-border workers were being allowed in.

Train services are also affected and the interior ministry has not ruled out closing airspace and sea traffic.

Madrid remains the area with the highest number of cases – 4,871 – with Catalonia next on 1,394.

Some 1,028 people are listed as having recovered from the Covid-19 disease.

EL Pais reports that the the government of the Balearic Islands has asked the 25,000 tourists who are still on the islands to leave and return home.

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