Spain reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases in more than two weeks, a sign that Europe’s biggest outbreak is slowing.
New infections were 4,273, taking the total to 135,032, according to Health Ministry data on Monday. The death toll rose by 637 to 13,055 in the past 24 hours, a smaller gain than Sunday’s 674 and the lowest number of daily fatalities since March 24.
With more fatalities from the disease than China, where the pandemic originated, public opinion of the government’s management of the crisis has consistently deteriorated. Just 27.7% of voters approve the administration’s actions, compared with 35.1% three weeks ago, according to a GAD3 poll published Monday by Spanish newspaper ABC.
With the entire country under lockdown since March 14, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced over the weekend that he will seek parliamentary approval to extend the current state of emergency by two weeks to April 25.
Under the extension, certain activities, such as construction, will be able to restart as part of government efforts to ease the strain on the battered economy, which is particularly hard-hit by widespread travel restrictions.
Restrictions are likely to be prolonged even further, though the Spanish leader said there will be changes to manage the return to normal life.
To bolster the overwhelmed health service, Spain’s government has called on the armed forces, deploying some 7,000 personnel in the military’s biggest peace-time operation. Soldiers are setting up 16 temporary hospitals, flying medical gear in from China and transporting patients, according to Defense Minister Margarita Robles.
To cushion the economic impact of the pandemic, Sanchez’s administration announced a 100 billion-euro ($108 billion) stimulus package and has temporarily waved certain payment obligations for self-employed workers and small- and medium-sized companies.
The government is also looking at putting in place some form of guaranteed basic income “soon” that will remain even after the crisis subsides, Economy Minister Nadia Calvio said Sunday.
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