The death toll in Spain from the coronavirus or COVID-19 fell to 301 in Spain on Tuesday that will allow the government set a framework for the regions to start phasing out one of the strictest lockdowns imposed in Europe.
Since March 14, the majority of the people in Spain have only been allowed for going out to get grocery or to a doctor, as the shutdown almost paralysed the economy and also the labour market.
The health ministry said the total fatalities since the start of the outbreak rose to 23,822, with the daily increase coming down from Monday's 331 and also well below record highs of over 900 earlier in the month. The number of diagnosed cases rose to 210,773 from 209,465 on Monday.
Coronavirus deaths decrease in Spain
Earlier on Tuesday, the National Statistics Institute said the first-quarter unemployment rate rose to 14.4 percent from 13.8 percent in the preceding three months, even though the data only partially reflected the impact of the lockdown that began two weeks before the end of the quarter. "The figure of course is devastating," Antonio Garamendi, head of the CEOE business association, told RNE radio. "The important thing is to resume our activities in order to really avoid this drama that we are living."
According to forecasts by the Bank of Spain, the coronavirus crisis could push the unemployment rate up to 21.7 percent this year, with the economy contracting as much as 12.4 percent. The cabinet was meeting on Tuesday to assess a range of parameters that should allow to further ease the restrictions in the regions with the lowest prevalence rates of the disease. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was due to outline the plan later in the day.
Spain recently began to soften the lockdown as it reined in the infection rate. In the most significant step yet, on Sunday children under 14 were granted one hour of daily supervised outdoor activity. Spaniards are expected to be allowed out to exercise alone from May 2 if the coronavirus toll continues to fall.
(With agency inputs)