Spain records lowest death toll in month with views to easing lockdown

(Update: Changes headlines, reledes, adds Monday Covid-19 data)

Madrid, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- Spain’s government has announced plans to ease its coronavirus lockdown measures as Monday’s coronavirus death toll dropped under 400, the lowest since 22 March.

The country has been one of the worst affected by the outbreak, with around 200,210 officially registered cases and 20,800 deaths.

Spain’s daily death rate has been declining with 399 fatalities reported in the last 24 hours, the lowest number since 22 March, and 4,266 new infections.

In the past figures have been lower over the weekend and a slight rise in the number of deaths and infections has often been recorded on Monday and Tuesday owing to a delay in collecting data from autonomous regions, Fernando Simón, director of the Health Ministry’s Emergency Coordination Center, told reporters on Monday.

There has also been a downward trend in the number of hospitalisations and patients admitted to intensive care units.

A total of 80,587 people have recovered from the virus and 3,230 were discharged from hospital between Sunday and Monday.

Simón said that Spain had gone from performing 200,000 Covid-19 tests to 700,000

“We do almost four times more PCR tests, and the incidence is going down a lot, even more than we thought,” he said.

The government still “aims to test as many as possible because being able to assess the evolution in this way gives us a guarantee that the control of the pandemic is being achieved,” the expert added.

Spain has had a shortage of face masks since the start of the pandemic but since non-essential workers resumed activities on 13 April, the government has urged people to start using them when travelling on public transport and where possible.

More than 900,000 face masks and more than one million latex gloves that have been sent from Shanghai to Spain were expected to arrive on Monday, General Carlos Pérez, Chief of the Defence Staff said.

Spain has one of the strictest confinement measures in Europe with adults only allowed to leave their homes individually to buy food or medicine, travel to work or walk their dogs.

The country’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced over the weekend that the restrictions would be relaxed and children would be allowed to go outside with their parents from 27 April.

By this time youngsters in the country will have spent seven weeks inside their homes, which in the cities are often small apartments without any outdoor space.

When asked by reporters how the transition for children to go outside would take place, Simón said that things would not go back to normal immediately and that, while he did not have the details of what the government would rule on the matter, he said social distancing would be key and children would not be able to gather in groups to play.

The proposed de-escalation came amid growing political tensions, especially between the left-wing coalition government, formed by the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos, and the conservative opposition Popular Party.

Sánchez was due to hold talks with PP leader Pablo Casado on Monday as part of a proposal by the PM for a national pact to deal with the economic and social fallout from the pandemic.

Casado previously refused to meet with Sánchez and said his offer was not “sincere”.

The PM has called on all political parties, regional governments and social groups such as unions to take part.

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