Spain spends 40 days in lockdown with hopes of easing in May

Madrid, Apr 23 (efe-epa).- Spain completed 40 days of lockdown on Thursday with hopes isolation measures will begin to relax in May as the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control.

The country has been one of the worst-hit in the world, with 1,202 cases reported in the last 24 hours, putting the national total above 213,000, and 440 fatalities, bringing the total to more than 21,700.

Almost 90,000 Covid-19 patients have been discharged from hospital and the rate of new cases and daily death toll has been declining as Spain has begun to flatten the curve of infections.

Fernando Simón, director of the Health Ministry’s Emergency Coordination Center, said “the evolution is correct” and can already be thought of as a “transition”.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said this week that the quarantine will begin to be eased in mid-May, which will be “slow and gradual” to avoid a second wave of infections.

An extension of the country’s state of alarm until 11 May was approved by parliament on Wednesday.

The government ordered Spain’s population into lockdown on 15 March, with some of the strictest confinement measures in the world.

Residents are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food and medicine or to travel to their place of employment if they cannot work from home.

Authorities announced earlier this week that from Monday children under 14 will be allowed to go out for walks in the first move to relax the confinement.

Youngsters have not been able to leave their homes for the past six weeks, with parent groups and experts calling for a relaxation to help protect their physical and mental health.

Health minister Salvador Illa said at a press conference on Thursday: “We have worked and listened to the opinion of paediatricians, sociologists and epidemiologists to carry out the order to allow walks for minors.”

Pablo Iglesias, second deputy prime minister and minister of social rights, said children will be able to go outside once a day, within a one-kilometre radius of their homes, between 9am and 9pm with a supervising adult.

The Spanish government has also said it plans to launch a programme of economic and social reconstruction and has set a maximum price on disposable surgical face masks.

The pandemic has already damaged the country’s previously fragile economy as it has hit some of its key industries such as tourism, commerce and leisure the hardest. EFE-EPA


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