The daily coronavirus death toll in Spain came in at 83 on Tuesday, up from 59 on Monday but under 100 for the third day in a row, according to figures released by the Spanish Health Ministry this afternoon.
The official number of Covid-19-related fatalities in Spain since the beginning of the pandemic now stands at 27,778.
The increase in deaths today was registered in almost its entirety in Catalonia and Madrid. But given the stability of other indicators, this can likely be attributed to the usual rise seen on Tuesdays since the crisis began, given underreporting at weekends due to lower staffing levels.
According to the latest data, there were 295 new infections diagnosed via the more reliable PCR tests, 10 more than were seen yesterday but again this can be attributed to underreporting from the weekend. Today marks the third straight day that there were fewer than 300 new confirmed coronavirus cases, compared to an average of 465 new cases registered daily last week.
The total number of official infections in Spain since the crisis began now stands at 232,037.
Today’s figures come eight days after half of Spain entered Phase 1 of the government’s deescalation process, and today would be when a potential uptick in new cases due to the relaxation of confinement measures would be seen. But the data presented today does not suggest such a rise.
Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus press conference, Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, said that “the progress of the epidemic could actually be even better” than the data suggests, given that Spain has just moved to a new system of collecting the figures related to the pandemic, with the cutoff point at midnight rather than at 9pm, as previously used.
“One of the objectives of this phase,” Simón continued, “is to reduce the time between the start of a case, a medical consult and diagnosis to 24 to 48 hours. [...] In the case of new outbreaks we may have the capacity to detect them and isolate them.”
Simón warned, however, “that we must continue to prudent. We are doing very well, but we must continue like this for some time in order to reduce the risk of a new outbreak.”
State of alarm
The Spanish government has given up on its plan to request a one-month extension to the state of alarm, which is due to expire on May 24. After negotiating with the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens), the executive will instead ask Congress to approve another two-week extension, as it has done four times already since mid-March.
If successful, the government’s emergency powers to deal with the coronavirus crisis will be extended to June 7. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has been facing growing political opposition to his extension requests, which he says are necessary to implement the gradual deescalation program and prevent a new spike in virus transmission.
Sources familiar with the situation said that the executive accepted Ciudadanos’ demand for a two-week, rather than four-week extension, in exchange for backing at the vote on Wednesday in Congress. Ciudadanos said in a release that this way, Sánchez’s minority government will not be reliant on the support of the pro-independence Catalan Republican Left (ERC).
CIS opinion poll
A total of 74.9% of Spaniards believe that political parties should support the government during the coronavirus crisis and leave criticism for a later date, according to the latest survey released today by the CIS public research institute. This represents a fall of 13 percentage points since April, when 87.8% of respondents replied in favor of supporting the government. Of those surveyed, 19.7% said that the opposition should criticize the government, nearly double the 10% reported last month.
Approval for the government’s handling of the crisis also fell slightly, dropping half a percentage point to 46%. A total of 95.2% of respondents agreed that the measures taken to fight the pandemic were necessary, and 60.4% said they were in favor of maintaining the confinement measures for an indefinite period. In contrast, 28.8% supported relaxing restrictions on mobility.
According to the results, 40% of those surveyed said they did not have a problem remaining in quarantine, a figure that rose to 48.8% if some restrictions were eased, for instance, to allow people outside for exercise or for walks. Regarding the state of alarm, 7.1% replied that they would be resigned to a new extension, while 3.7% were against the measure. The survey was carried out between May 4 and 13, prior to the approval of the fourth extension to the state of alarm. The results are based on 3,800 phone surveys.
An overwhelming majority of respondents supported greater investment in public healthcare (86.7%), increasing the number of healthcare workers (84.4%) and spending more resources on preventing and addressing pandemics (82.5%).
The survey also showed waning support for the far-right party Vox, with 11.5% of respondents backing the group, compared to 14.8% in March. The Socialist Party (PSOE) remains in first place with 31.1%, followed by the Popular Party (PP) with 20.3% and Unidas Podemos with 11.5%.
Spain lifts ban on direct flights from Italy
The Spanish Transportation Ministry on Tuesday lifted the ban on direct flights between Spain and Italy, and on ships coming from Italy to Spain. The restrictions were introduced two months ago in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. The ministerial order, however, does not apply to cruise chips, which are still prohibited from docking in Spanish ports, regardless of their country of origin.
With reporting by José Marcos and Oriol Güell.