Spain’s daily coronavirus deaths fell to the lowest in more than a month yesterday, prompting the government to declare the most acute phase of the epidemic is over as it prepares criteria to ease one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.
The 367 registered deaths in the previous 24 hours represented just a 1.7% increase overall, down from 440 the previous day, and the lowest since March 21.
However, with 22,524 deaths in total, Spain still has the world’s third-highest tally after the United States and Italy.
New cases rose over 6,700 to 219,764 from the day before, but the rise in new infections based on more specific testing was much lower, at 2,796, meaning those cured, at 3,105, surpassed new infections for the first time.
Government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said “We have overcome the toughest phase, the most critical phase of the disease, thanks mainly to the effort of the whole of Spanish society.”
Although calling for prudence due to many yet unknown aspects of the virus, Health Minister Salvador Illa said the epidemic’s curve had reversed, allowing the government to plan a gradual exit from the national shutdown since mid-March.
“The direction of the transition will be overseen by the government based on criteria that we have started to discuss with the regions,” he said .
The government has started to outline thresholds for further easing next month of the economically-crippling lockdown for regions with the lowest contagion rates and least burdened hospitals.
For restrictions to be lifted, there must be no more than two daily cases per 100,000 people in an area, or COVID-19 patients must occupy no more than half of ICU beds.
The government has already taken some steps to relax the lockdown, such as letting children take walks outside from this weekend, but broader restrictions will not be eased until late May.