Spain reports first new COVID-19 death since May 31

Spain reports first new COVID-19 death since May 31

Spain coronavirus
People waving Spanish flags hold a minute of silence for victims of COVID-19 at Sol square in downtown Madrid, Spain. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

MADRID: Spain on Wednesday (Jun 3) reported its first death from the coronavirus since Sunday as the government sought parliament's backing for a final extension to the country's state of emergency.

Confirmed cases increased by 219 from the previous day to 240,326, while the cumulative death toll reached 27,128.

Just a month ago, Spain was logging over a thousand new cases and hundreds of deaths every day, overwhelming the health service.

In recognition of their "enormous personal sacrifice", front-line medical workers were awarded the prestigious Princess of Asturias Award on Wednesday. More than 50,000 health workers have been infected with the virus.

READ: Healthcare staff win top Spain prize for 'spirit of sacrifice'

Data released by the National Statistics Institute (INE) revealed a shocking 155 per cent spike in mortality at the epidemic's early-April peak, though not all excess deaths can be directly linked to the coronavirus.

"There are other possible reasons for excess deaths," Health Emergency Coordinator Fernando Simon said, suggesting seasonal flu could be behind some of them. "Or it could be because of an overloaded health system and delayed access to hospitals."

Thanks to strict confinement measures the government believes the worst is now over, a claim borne out by the INE data, which shows mortality between May 18-24 was at roughly the same level as a year earlier.

Still, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wants to extend the state of emergency, which grants his government exceptional powers, until Jun 21 to allow greater control as the lockdown is phased out.

READ: Spanish PM Sanchez to extend lockdown a final time to Jun 21

His proposal looked set to pass in the 350-seat lower house, despite opposition from the conservative People's Party and the far-right Vox.

As restrictions on movement are eased Spain is evaluating how to restart its tourism industry, which accounts for 12 per cent of economic output.

On Wednesday the tourism ministry said it might open up some limited travel from Jun 22, despite earlier plans to reopen from Jul 1.

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Source: Reuters