COVID-19 Cases

The daily death toll drops in Spain's COVID, cabinet debates lockdown

Image:- Spain's COVID19

Spain's daily coronavirus death toll fell to 301 on Tuesday, well below three-fold record highs in early April, which should allow the government to set a framework for regions to begin phasing out one of the toughest lockdowns in Europe.

Most Spaniards have only been allowed out for grocery shopping or going to the doctor since March 14, with the shutdown almost paralyzing the economy and labor market.

The Ministry of Health said the total fatalities since the outbreak began rose to 23,822, with the daily increase coming down from Monday's 331 and also well below record highs of over 900 earlier in the month.

The number of cases diagnosed rose to 210,773 on Monday, from 209,465.

The National Statistics Institute said earlier on Tuesday that the unemployment rate in the first quarter rose to 14.4 percent from 13.8 percent in the preceding three months, although the data only partially reflected the impact of the lockdown that began two weeks before quarter end.

"The figure is devastating, of course," Antonio Garamendi, CEOE business association leader, told RNE radio. "The important thing is to resume our activities in order to really avoid this drama that we are living." According to the Bank of Spain's forecasts, this year's coronavirus crisis could push the unemployment rate up to 21.7%, with the economy shrinking to 12.4%.

The cabinet met on Tuesday to assess a range of parameters that should allow the restrictions to be further eased in regions with the disease's lowest prevalence rates.

Premier Pedro Sanchez was expected to outline the plan later in the day.

Spain has recently begun softening the lockdown as it reined in the rate of infection.

In the most significant step yet, one hour of day supervised outdoor activity was granted to children under 14 on Sunday. If the coronavirus toll continues to fall, Spaniards are expected to be allowed to exercise alone from May 2.