The daily number of coronavirus deaths has fallen in Spain for a fourth consecutive day, boosting hopes the country has passed the outbreak’s peak.
Monday’s increase of 637 deaths means more than 13,000 have died in total.
Spain’s population has been living under severe restrictions for more than three weeks, with lockdown measures now extended toward the end of April.
The nation has more than 135,000 confirmed cases, the most in Europe, but new infections have been slowing.
Spanish officials say they plan to widen coronavirus testing to include those without symptoms.
“It is important to know who is contaminated to be able to gradually lift Spanish citizens’ lockdown,” Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez was quoted by Reuters as telling television station Antena 3.
Slowing death rates in a number of the worst-hit European countries, including Italy, France and Germany, are raising hope that strict social distancing measures are curbing the spread of Covid-19.
There have been more than 1.2m cases and almost 70,000 deaths confirmed around the world since the virus emerged in China in December.
Monday’s figures show an increase of 4,273 new confirmed cases, bringing the national total to 135,032.
Spain’s total number of cases is second only to the United States, which has a much larger population.
The country also has the second-highest death toll in the world, behind Italy. But Monday’s figure of 637 is the lowest recorded in almost two weeks, since 24 March.
It is a drop from the 674 new deaths confirmed on Sunday. The daily death toll hit a peak of 950 last Thursday.
Maria Jose Sierra, deputy head of Spain’s health emergency committee, said Monday that the pandemic’s growth rate appeared to be slowing down “in almost every region” of the country.
Checkpoints were lifted on Monday at a number of hard-hit towns in the Catalonia region.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said at the weekend that some restrictions, including keeping non-essential workers at home, could be lifted after Easter.
Speaking on Saturday, he said the country was “close to passing the peak of infections” but said he was extending lockdown measures until 25 April because the restrictions were “saving lives”.
Businesses, including shops and restaurants, have been closed since 14 March and residents have been told to stay home and only go outside to carry out essential tasks.
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