Spain saw its third consecutive daily decline in the number of people dying from the coronavirus pandemic as the country recorded another 674 fatalities on Sunday.
The health ministry said total deaths were now 12,418, the highest in the world after Italy, since the pandemic emerged in China in December.
The 674 fatalities, which were sharply down on the record 950 declared on April 2, represented an increase of 5.7 percent over the last 24 hours, and compared with a 30 percent leap in one recent day.
The number of infections rose 4.8 percent to 130,759, indicating a slowdown in the spread from 8.2 percent on April 1 and 14 percent 10 days ago.
The number of people declared to have recovered has increased by 11 percent, to 38,080.
The authorities say they believe they have stabilised the spread of the virus but have decided to extend until midnight April 25 a strict lockdown imposed on Spain’s 46.6 million people since March 14.
“The pressure is easing,” said Maria Jose Sierra of the health ministry’s emergencies centre, pointing to a decrease in hospitalisations.
Empar Loren, a nurse at a hospital in Lerida, Catalonia, added: “The situation is more stable. The number of patients in intensive care is not growing much anymore, and we are starting to discharge quite a few.”
Authorities are beginning to plan for a gradual end to the quarantine in the hope of avoiding a resurgence of the virus.
Health Minister Salvador Illa said one million COVID-19 tests had been sent to regional authorities, and he asked them to map buildings where residents test positive.
“Our basic goal in this phase of winding down is to ensure that anyone presenting symptoms be diagnosed early and placed in isolation,” Sierra said.
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