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Friday May 24, 2024

Spain sees signs of hope

By AFP
April 05, 2020

MADRID: Spain recorded a second successive daily drop in coronavirus-related deaths with 809 fatalities, official figures showed Saturday.

The total number of deaths in Spain now stands at 11,744, second only to Italy. A record 950 people died on Thursday.

The number of new cases also slowed at 7,026, taking the total to 124,736.

Recoveries over the last 24 hours stood at 3,706, taking that total to 34,219.

The Madrid region was the worst affected accounting for 40 percent of the deaths, 4,723, and 29 percent of the cases at 36,249. The northeastern region of Catalonia was in second place with 2,508 deaths.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is due to decide whether to prolong the emergency measures and confinement declared on March 14 for another two weeks in order to get on top of the outbreak.

In Europe, Italy and Spain continue to bear the brunt of a pandemic that has kept millions of citizens confined to their homes, closed schools and businesses and overwhelmed healthcare systems.

But official figures suggested unprecedented measures to restrict people´s movements were working and that the peak may have hit on the continent.

Spain, which is under a near-total lockdown, on Saturday recorded a second successive daily fall in coronavirus-related deaths with 809 fatalities.

The total number of deaths in the country now stands at 11,744, second only to Italy.

The number of new Spanish cases also slowed at 7,026, taking the total to 124,736.

Spaniard Javier Lara survived after being put on oxygen in an overcrowded intensive care unit — a shock to a 29-year-old who was athletic and does not smoke.

“I was panicking that my daughter would get infected. When I started showing symptoms, I said I wouldn´t hold her or go near her,” he said, describing facing death with an eight-week-old as the “worst moment” in his life.

Italy reported late Friday that the daily rise of officially registered infections dropped to a new low of just four percent, while the number of people who had fully recovered was rising.

“The numbers are improving,” said Giuli Gallera, chief medical officer of Italy´s worst-hit Lombardy region.

“Our hospitals are starting to breathe.”

European governments have nevertheless warned citizens not to expect a loosening of the restrictions anytime soon.

In Germany, where the death toll rose again on Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said figures showing the virus´s spread was slowing “give us a little bit of hope”.

“But it is definitely much too early to see a clear trend in that, and it is certainly too early to think in any way about relaxing the strict rules we have given ourselves,” she said.

German authorities joined the US and other countries in encouraging citizens to wear self-made masks in public, prompting a flurry of online tutorials and debate about how to maximise protection.

In France, 160,000 police officers and gendarmes fanned out nationwide to ensure people were heeding the confinement rules despite the start of the Easter holidays, when French families traditionally head to the beach, countryside or mountains.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said security forces would be carrying out checks “day and night” at stations, on motorways and at tourist destinations.

There was yet another warning over the fate of the less developed world, especially conflict zones or places with large refugee populations.

“The worst is yet to come,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, referring to countries such as Syria, Libya and Yemen. “The COVID-19 storm is now coming to all these theatres of conflict.”

The world economy has been pummelled by the virus and associated lockdowns, with millions more people signing on for unemployment payments in the US.

Financial ratings agency Fitch predicted the US and eurozone economies would shrink this quarter by up to 30 percent.

Latin America is heading into a “deep recession” with an expected drop of 1.8 to 4.0 percent in GDP, according to the UN.