Spain’s death rate falls to lowest level since lockdown
Daniel Dombey in Madrid
Spain’s coronavirus death rate has fallen to 164 in the past 24-hour period, the lowest daily toll since the earliest time of the country’s seven-week-old lockdown.
Figures released by the ministry of health on Sunday showed a decline of more than 100 on the previous day’s death toll of 276, itself one of the smallest totals since the lockdown was imposed in mid-March.
Weekend coronavirus counts tend to be lower because of a lag in reporting time, but Spain’s death toll has moved steadily down in recent weeks and is now far below its peak of 950 on April 2.
The latest numbers — the lowest total since 107 people died on March 18, three days into the lockdown — were compiled in the 24 hours until 9pm on Saturday.
The Spanish government is gradually easing the lockdown and will allow non-essential shops to open by appointment from Monday. On Saturday adults were allowed for the first time since mid-March to exercise and go for walks outdoors. Many streets were crowded, however, with people not observing social distancing or wearing masks.
From Monday it will be obligatory to wear masks on public transport, Pedro Sánchez, prime minister, said on Saturday, as the government seeks to block a fresh surge in infections.
According to official figures, 25,264 people have died after contracting coronavirus, a total that includes proven but not probable deaths.
Polymerase chain reaction tests give an instantaneous snapshot of whether someone is infected. PCR testing indicates that 217,466 Spanish people have been infected with Covid-19, the health ministry said.
This represents a 0.39 per cent increase on the previous day’s figure, indicating the lowest spread of the virus to date, but does not include results from quicker but less reliable antibody tests.
The government says 118,002 people – more than half those testing positive – have now recovered.