Fake coronavirus prevention devices seized in Spain, country sees new record in virus-related deaths

Fake coronavirus prevention devices seized in Spain, country sees new record in virus-related deaths

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Authorities in Spain are investigating a stock of purifiers that a man claimed would prevent getting infected with the coronavirus as the country struggles with a new record for virus-related fatalities.

Spain’s Guardia Civil said in a news release on Wednesday that authorities were alerted about a 60-year-old man in the northern city of La Rioja who was marketing an ozone air purifier as a COVID-19 prevention device.

“The [man] allegedly took advantage of the health crisis to attract customers and sell the 21 devices that had been stored for several years at 130 euros ($141) each,” police said.

SPAIN BECOMES THIRD-MOST CORONAVIRUS-INFECTED COUNTRY AS RESTRICTIONS TIGHTEN

The Guardia Civil released images of the items seized.

A man in Spain is being investigated for fraud for deceptive advertising after selling an ozone air purifier as a COVID-19 prevention device.

A man in Spain is being investigated for fraud for deceptive advertising after selling an ozone air purifier as a COVID-19 prevention device. (Guardia Civil)

The ozone air filters for sale claimed to be a “powerful disinfectant device” that could prevent COVID-19 by “totally” cleaning a room and “disinfecting all surfaces at once, destroying bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.,” according to the police.

Police said the man took advantage of the health crisis to sell the 21 devices that had been stored for "several years."

Police said the man took advantage of the health crisis to sell the 21 devices that had been stored for “several years.” (Guardia Civil)

But police said laboratory results revealed that for a surface of 50 square meters, each device only reduced bacteria by 60 percent and molds by 50 percent. Police said the man is now being investigated for fraud and for deceptive advertising.

The ozone-generating air filter claimed to be a “powerful disinfectant device” that could prevent COVID-19 by “totally” cleaning a room, but laboratory tests showed it only partially reduced bacteria and molds.

The ozone-generating air filter claimed to be a “powerful disinfectant device” that could prevent COVID-19 by “totally” cleaning a room, but laboratory tests showed it only partially reduced bacteria and molds. (Guardia Civil)

In the weeks since Spanish authorities declared a health alert, police said there has been an uptick in people trying to take advantage of “insecurity and fear” as the country is in lockdown.

The Guardia Civil said they are investigating numerous scammers and cyber criminals claiming to prevent or cure COVID-19.

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On Thursday, data from Spain’s health ministry showed the country saw a new record in virus-related fatalities, with 950 deaths in 24 hours.

New coronavirus infections rose by nearly 8 percent overnight to 110,238, putting Spain on pace with Italy, the country that saw the worst outbreak in Europe.

Undertakers carry the coffin of Rosalia Mascaraque, 86, during the coronavirus outbreak in Zarza de Tajo, central Spain, Wednesday.

Undertakers carry the coffin of Rosalia Mascaraque, 86, during the coronavirus outbreak in Zarza de Tajo, central Spain, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Health authorities have said that the pace of contagion has dropped from a daily average of 20 percent up until March 25, to lower than 12 percent after that date, more than 10 days after a nationwide lockdown.

The government has acknowledged that the real number of infections could be much higher because Spain only tests between 15,000 to 20,000 per day.

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As of Thursday, there were at least 952,171 positive cases of COVID-19 and at least 48,320 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The total number of deaths in Spain stood at 10,003 on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

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