Spain Records Fewest Virus Deaths in Six Weeks, Cases Drop

(Bloomberg) --

Spain recorded steep declines in the number of new coronavirus deaths and cases, as the nation begins gradually relaxing a strict lockdown regime after weeks of confinement.

The number of fatalities rose by 268 to 24,543 in the 24 hours through Thursday, the smallest increase in six weeks and compared with Wednesday’s of 325, according to Health Ministry data. Total infections rose by 1,309 to 213,435 after the previous day’s gain of 2,144. The figures include an adjustment on how previous new cases were counted in one region, the ministry said.

Spain has the world’s second-most extensive outbreak of the pandemic after the U.S., but after a steady decline in the number of new infections and deaths the government has started to shift its focus toward reigniting the ailing economy. The daily death toll peaked at the start of this month, reaching 950 on April 2.

Earlier on Thursday, gross domestic product data showed a 5.2% contraction in the first quarter, bringing to an abrupt halt six years of robust growth that had pulled the country out of the last major crisis.

The decline in output was deeper than the 4.3% drop forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey and appears especially grim because the lockdown only affected some 15 days of March, with the bulk of the confinement having taken place during April.

The government will start gradually easing restrictions for stores, bars, restaurants and hotels on Spanish islands in the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea next week. It aims to fully end lockdown across the entire country in June, having begun a tentative easing of some curbs on movement this week.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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