The Spanish Health Ministry on Thursday reported 48 coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, the lowest figure since the state of alarm was introduced in mid-March in a bid to slow the spread of the pandemic.
However, this number does not reflect overnight fatalities in Catalonia, which has been posting the second-highest figures after Madrid. The ministry cited “validation problems” as the reason for not including these numbers in the total figure.
The ministry said that there were 344 new infections in the 24-hour period. The official number of coronavirus-related deaths in Spain now stands at reached 27,940.
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 by July, Spain may be ready to open up for foreign tourists, but he called for caution. “What we can do is start to prepare so that the risks are as low as possible,” he said.
With regard to new infections, Simón explained that they were “coming from a number of collectives, such as health workers and senior residences.” He added that there was one group of new infections “where we haven’t been able to establish the origin.”
Also on Thursday, face masks became compulsory in Spain for everyone over six years of age in public spaces – whether indoors or outdoors – where a social distance of two meters cannot be maintained.
The move is part of the government’s drive to keep transmission levels low as confinement measures are slowly lifted. On Friday, health authorities will announce which parts of Spain move on to the next level of the four-phase deescalation plan.
If the Madrid region is allowed to transition from Phase 0 to Phase 1, all city parks will be reopened on Monday, said Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida on Thursday. So far, the biggest green areas in Madrid, including the Retiro Park, have remained off limits to the public.
Also in Madrid, the government has greenlighted a “protest on wheels” called by the far-right party Vox for Saturday. Party officials have asked anti-government demonstrators to show up in their private vehicles rather than on foot in order to respect social-distancing rules. The decision to allow the protest was taken after favorable reports were issued by state legal advisors, by the National Police and by regional health authorities, who did not see a risk of transmission.
The protest will begin at noon in Plaza de Cibeles and continue down Paseo de Recoletos, Plaza de Colón, Goya street, Serrano street and Puerta de Alcalá.
The southern region of Andalusia has asked the government to go back on its decision to introduce a 14-day quarantine for international tourists. Instead, the region wants visitors to undergo temperature screenings on their way in and out of Spain, and to get tested for Covid-19 upon departure from Spanish territory.
Science Minister Pedro Duque said on Thursday that he hopes to see one of the potential vaccines against Covid-19 being developed in Spain move to the human trial stage by the fall. The former astronaut told a congressional committee that “a lot of work” is still required to know if these vaccines are the solution, and noted that 10 of the world’s 120 projects currently underway are taking place in Spain.
With reporting by Eva Sáiz and the Efe news agency.
English version by Susana Urra.