Coronavirus ‘de-escalation will be slow’ warns Spanish PM

Coronavirus 'de-escalation will be slow' warns Spanish PM
Pedro Sanchez in parliament on Wednesday. Photo: AFP
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he hoped Spain could begin to ease its restrictions during the second half of May, but warned that "de-escalation will be slow".

Spain's latest figures show that 440 people died in the past 24 hours from the new coronavirus, a slight increase for the third day running, bringing the overall death toll to 22,157.

The country has suffered the third-highest number of deaths in the world from the pandemic after the United States and Italy, with infections now more than 213,000 cases, health ministry figures showed.

Spanish health officials believe the epidemic peaked on April 2nd when 950 people died over 24 hours, nearly three weeks after the government imposed a strict lockdown, effectively confining almost 47 million citizens to home to slow the spread of the virus.   

“The rate of infections is holding at 2 percent, when a month ago it was 35 percent,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference on Thursday.

“We have achieved the goal of a deceleration and slowdown for this week but we remain in a hard phase of the epidemic,” he said.

The March 14th lockdown has been twice extended and parliament late on Wednesday approved a fresh extension until May 9th, although conditions are to be slightly eased from April 26th to allow children to spend some time outside.


UPDATE: What you need to know about Spain's new rules for taking children outside during lockdown


During the debate in parliament on Wednesday, Sánchez warned that the de-escalation of coronavirus confinement measures would be “slow and gradual,” but wouldn’t rule out that there could be backward steps and reversals depending on how the situation in Spain evolved.

“The general lockdown will not be lifted until we are ready,” the prime minister insisted adding that based on the current outlook, life under a “new normality” could begin in the second half of May.


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