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The latest figures from Spain’s health ministry show that 510 people died between Friday and Saturday, the lowest single-day death toll since 23 March.
To date, the country has recorded a total of 161,852 cases of the coronavirus and 16,353 deaths. The growth rate in new cases stands at around 3% – down from a daily average of 12% at the end of March and 20% in mid-March.
The statistics suggest the lockdown measures are continuing to pay off and that the country is in the so-called “stabilisation phase”.
Spain’s lockdown, which has been in place since a state of emergency was declared on 14 March, was once again extended this week and will remain in effect until at least 26 April.
The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, says another extension seems inevitable. “I’m sure that in two weeks’ time I’ll have to extend the state of emergency again,” he told parliament on Thursday.
Despite the continuing general lockdown, from Monday or Tuesday next week, some non-essential workers will be allowed to begin returning to jobs in factories and construction sites and face-masks will be handed out at metro and train stations.
The ban on non-essential workers travelling to do their jobs was a two-week measure intended to ease pressure on the country’s overstretched intensive care units, and it elapsed on 9 April.
Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, has stressed that the nationwide lockdown remains in place and reminded people that the country will be “in a phase of very tough measures” until further notice.
“Businesses that have been authorised to restart their activities may do so [from next week],” he said on Friday.
“It means that Spaniards will be allowed on to the streets to go to work and to get basic items such as food and medicine, but for no other reasons.”
According to media reports, at least one member of the government’s expert panel on the coronavirus has questioned the decision, saying he believes it would have been “sensible” to keep the ban on all non-essential work in force for longer.
Spain’s daily coronavirus death toll fell for the third day in a row on Saturday after 510 fatalities were reported in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said in a statement, marking the smallest overnight increase since 23 March.
Total fatalities from the virus rose to 16,353, from 15,843 on Friday, the ministry said, while the number of confirmed cases climbed to 161,852 from 157,022.