Residents of Spanish nursing homes have been found abandoned or dead in their beds as the country's coronavirus outbreak worsens, according to the nation's Defence Minister.
The Spanish military has been brought in to help disinfect areas, including nursing homes, as the disease spreads in one of Europe's worst-hit countries.
"The army, during certain visits, found some older people completely abandoned, sometimes even dead in their beds," Defence Minister Margarita Robles told broadcaster Telecinco, according to the BBC.
She did not say what had caused the deaths.
Spain is the second hardest-hit country in Europe after Italy, with the country's death toll at more than 2,300, according to figures by the Johns Hopkins University.
A Spanish official in charge of the health emergency said 87 per cent of those who had died were aged 70 or older.
Spain's capital Madrid is struggling with the number of cases and its municipal funeral home said it would stop collecting bodies due to a shortage of equipment. Private funeral homes will still be operating.
City authorities also decided to use an Olympic-sized ice rink as a morgue, near a conference centre which has been kitted out with hospital beds.
The worsening coronavirus outbreak in the country has infected nearly 4,000 health workers, who account for approximately 11 per cent of Spain's total 35,136 registered cases.
Nurses, doctors and other health workers have echoed the complaints of their counterparts in other countries, saying they lack protective equipment like masks.
The national health service was "demonstrating a great capacity to respond in an exceptional situation", Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference.
He warned the epidemic could reach its peak in Spain in the coming days.
Soldiers were also deployed to Barcelona to help build a temporary homeless shelter at the city's Fira event centre.
The shelter, to be managed by the Red Cross, will allow up to 1,000 homeless people to isolate themselves in hygienic conditions, Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau said.
Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo, who has born in 1957, was hospitalised over the weekend with a respiratory infection, the Government said. She is now awaiting coronavirus test results.
Two other ministers and the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez have tested positive for the virus over the past weeks.
Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said a nationwide lockdown, which has kept most Spaniards confined to their homes, was beginning to take a heavy toll on the economy.
"Economic activity, which was dynamic until February slowed significantly last week," she said, adding that the food, electricity and telecoms industries had continued to function normally.