MADRID, Mar 26 (.) – Spain woke up on Thursday with the prospect of a longer quarantine, after Congress approved an extension of the state of alarm in the early hours of the morning, after an extensive debate session.

Congress ended up voting to extend the emergency measures – including the quarantine that has forced people to confine themselves to their homes, except for essential trips to get food, medicine, and work – for an additional 15 days, until 12 of April.

A majority of 321 deputies voted in favor of the extension, while 28 abstained. The largest opposition party, the Popular Party, supported the measure.

“It is not easy to extend the state of alarm,” said the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, in Congress. “I am convinced that the only effective option against the virus is social isolation,” he added.

Spain faces an increasingly serious crisis due to the coronavirus epidemic. On Wednesday it exceeded the death toll recorded in China with 738 deaths in one day and on Thursday there were already more than 4,000 deaths.

Nursing homes across the country have been overwhelmed, and a skating rink in Madrid has turned into a makeshift morgue, with funeral carriages parked outside a place that used to be a popular venue for children’s birthday parties.

The country’s government is fighting to get protective equipment like masks, surgical clothing, gloves, and mechanical ventilators.

The government ordered more than 432 million euros ($ 471.4 million) in masks, gloves and test kits in China, said Health Minister Salvador Illa.

(1 dollar = 0.9164 euros)

(Report by Jessica Jones and Inti Landauro; edited in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)