MADRID: The daily pace of new coronavirus infections and deaths in Spain slowed again on Saturday (Apr 4) as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was expected to announce a new extension to lockdown measures that have confined most Spaniards to their homes for three weeks.

The total death toll rose to 11,744 – the world’s second highest – on Saturday from 10,935 the day before, the Health Ministry said, representing a 7 per cent increase in total deaths after a 9 per cent rise on Friday. That is less than half the pace of the around 20 per cent increase registered a week ago.

A total of 809 people died from the disease over the past 24 hours, down from Friday’s 932 and Thursday’s daily record of 950, the figures showed.

Meanwhile, the total number of registered infections rose to 124,736 on Saturday from 117,710 on Friday, when Spain overtook Italy in the total number of infections for the first time.

Some of Madrid’s most famous tourist sites, such as the Royal Palace and Las Ventas bullring, stood eerily quiet on Saturday, as Spaniards readied themselves for a fourth week living under one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.

Only employees in essential sectors such as health are free to travel to and from work. Restaurants, bars and shops are shuttered, and social gatherings are banned.

In a press conference on Friday, Health Minister Salvador Illa said premier Sanchez would call opposition leaders following a meeting of his coronavirus task force on Saturday to let them know his decision on extending the lockdown from the current end date of Apr 13.

Health officials say the slowdown in new infections proves the effectiveness of the lockdown in place.

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