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Spain to mourn virus victims for unprecedented 10-day period

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Spain to mourn virus victims for unprecedented 10-day period

People walk on a street in Barcelona on May 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) MADRID (AP) — The Spanish government has declared 10 days of mourning starting Wednesday for the nearly 27,000 people who have died with the novel coronavirus in Spain, the longest official mourning period in the country’s 4-decade-old democracy.

Flags will be hoisted to half-staff in more than 14,000 public buildings across the nation and on Spanish naval vessels until June 5, under the declaration made Tuesday. King Felipe VI, as Spain’s head of state, will preside over a solemn memorial ceremony once the country emerges from the lockdown imposed 2 1/2 months ago, the government said.

The dead are "men and women whose lives have been suddenly cut short, leaving friends and family in great pain, both from the sudden loss and from the difficult circumstances in which it has occurred," government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said following the Cabinet meeting where the grieving period was approved.

Opposition parties had criticized Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s left-wing coalition government for not paying tribute to the virus pandemic’s victims as Spain’s death toll – the world’s fifth-highest after the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and France – became a point of political debate.

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Arguing that some unconfirmed virus cases had been erroneously counted, Spanish health authorities reduced the country’s official mortality figure by 1,918.

Montero said that 80% of Spain’s virus-related deaths were people age 70 or older, "those who helped build our country as we recognize it today, and ultimately laid the foundations of our democracy."

"They might not accompany us physically, but they will remain forever in our memory," she […]

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