Spain slows coronavirus toll and hosts virtual Easter parades

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BARCELONA (Reuters) – The curve for coronavirus deaths in Spain flattened again on Friday as the government prepared to begin easing one of the world’s tightest blockages and virtual Easter celebrations instead of traditional processions.

FILE PHOTO: A combined photo shows the Jurado Badillo family home, the San Lorenzo cemetery, a hospital, and the local police headquarters in Ronda, amid the epidemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ronda, southern Spain, April 9, 2020. / Photo taken on November 21, 2018 / REUTERS / Jon Nazca

The Spanish have been on the streets since mid-March and have suffered nearly 16,000 deaths from COVID-19 – the third worst death toll after Italy and the United States.

But the slowing rate of infection and death has allowed authorities to consider a gradual lifting of the lockdown.

“The government is preparing new de-escalation scenarios,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told reporters.

Although several officials have said the formal foreclosure will likely continue in May, some restrictions must be lifted on Monday to bring a crippled economy to life.

From there, workers in certain sectors such as construction will be laid off again and some factories will reopen.

Further easing of the lock will depend on how the epidemic progresses, Illa said. “These are very complex decisions that require multidisciplinary analysis.”

Although many people are returning to work, social distance must be maintained, said Maria Jose Sierra, deputy head of health emergencies, at a virtual press conference.

“We will give a series of recommendations. Most importantly, if there is a person who has the slightest symptom, they should contact the health care system and remain self-isolated, “she said.

“GIVE US HOPE”

Protective masks are recommended and the authorities plan to distribute them in public transport hubs.

Instead of taking to the streets for ceremonies on one of the most important days on the Christian calendar, many Spaniards organized virtual processions on social media, logging on to play folk music and wear traditional costumes.

In the Castilian town of Cuenca, the drummers went to the balconies and to the doorstep to play songs they usually performed in the town.

Reuters footage showed a closed church in Seville, normally the site of lavish Holy Week processions, with flowers and candles stacked by the closed door but no one around, and a mask pinned to the door with the inscription ” give us hope ”.

The death toll fell to 605 on Friday, the lowest since March 24, the health ministry said. The rate of increase has dropped to 4% from 20% two weeks ago. The total death toll in Spain was 15,843 on Friday.

“We find that the curves are declining, although there are still many cases,” added Sierra.

Reports by Graham Keeley, Belen Carreno and Inti Landauro; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Gareth Jones

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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