Spain PM plans to extend COVID lockdown after spike in deaths
Spain, which was also planning to ease the lockdown when the daily deaths dropped below 400, had to reconsider its plan after recording a spike for the second day on Wednesday
Despite the World Health Organisation's warnings to not rush into easing the Coronavirus restrictions as it could lead to a resurgence of the disease, some of the affected countries have started to restart their economies.
Spain, which was also planning to ease the lockdown when the daily deaths dropped below 400, had to reconsid its plan after recording a spike for the second day on Wednesday. Another 435 people died in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall death toll to 21,717, said the authorities.
Pedro Sanchez, Spain PM
Spain has suffered the third-highest number of deaths in the world after the US and Italy, with infections now hitting 2,08,000 cases, health ministry figures showed. Monday's figure of 399 deaths was the lowest in four weeks, but a day later, it rose to 430 with officials explaining the numbers tend to go up slightly on Tuesday following delays in receiving regional data on weekend deaths.
The March 14 lockdown has been twice extended with Spain Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez seeking parliament go-ahead to prolong nation's state of emergency until May 9. "We must avoid missteps. If we stay on top of the virus and our health system maintains and reinforces that impression, then we will propose another step," BBC quoted him as saying.
A worker on a construction site on Wednesday in Cenon, France, as works resume after stopping several weeks; long lines built up outside the few McDonald's drive-thrus that started serving customers again; more than 10 million employees in France - one out of every two in the private sector - have been laid off during the lockdown. Pic/AFP
But from Sunday, the conditions are to be eased for youngsters in Spain, who have not been allowed out of the house for nearly six weeks under one of the most restrictive lockdowns in the world. From April 26, those under 14 will be allowed to go for a walk with one of their parents or accompany them on trips out to buy food, medicine or go to the bank.
Addressing MPs at Wednesday's parliamentary session, Sánchez said moves to ease the lockdown would likely begin in the second half of May. "The second half of May offers the prospect of a scaling-back [of the lockdown], of phase two of the fight" when the restrictions "will be modified", he said.
But the lockdown "will not be lifted until we are prepared for it because we are not going to take any risks," he said, insisting that "any optimism must be tempered by prudence".
"We must be incredibly careful in this phase," he said. "The scaling-back period will be slow and gradual, precisely because it has to be safe." Restrictions were also being eased in Denmark, Austria and France. In the US, too, some states were relaxing restrictions. The pandemic has infected over 2.5 million people and killed over 1,77,000 around the world.
Iran and Iraq continue to report new deaths
Iraq, which had on Tuesday partly eased the lockdown restrictions, recorded one more fatality, bringing the tally to 83 on Wednesday. The Health Ministry said the total number of cases reached 1,602 with 28 new cases, reported Anadolu Agency. In Iran, where local shops were reportedly allowed to open from April 20 but with social distancing in place, reported 94 new deaths on Wednesday. But the cases of infections was on the way down, it said. Health ministry said the fatalities detected in the past 24 hours took Iran's overall toll to 5,391; and infections climbed to 85,996 with 1,194 new cases. "If we arrogantly think that the job is done and we have won, then this would be the biggest problem that could affect us," President Hassan Rouhani said. Iran has struggled to contain the outbreak. Despite that, Iran has allowed many businesses to reopen since April 11 after shutting most down in mid-March to prevent the spread of the disease.
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