Spain records no new daily deaths for first time since outbreak began

Henry Samuel
Spain has recorded no new coronavirus deaths in a 24 hour period since the outbreak began more than two months ago - FERNANDO VILLAR/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

Spain on Monday reported zero deaths over the previous 24 hours from the coronavirus for the first time since March, in a major symbolic step in vanquishing the disease for one of Europe’s worst-hit nations.

Emergency health response chief Fernando Simon said the development was "very, very encouraging”.

Beyond the lack of deaths, there were only 71 new infection over the past 24 hours, he told reporters.

"We are in a very good place in the evolution of the pandemic," said Mr Simon. "The statistics are following a trend. They are going in the right direction.”

Spain was the second European country after Italy to be brutally hit by the pandemic before it spread to neighbouring France and then Britain.

The country reported its first two deaths on March 3. Infections and deaths rocketed exponentially and peaked on April 2, when some 950 fatalities were recorded in just 24 hours.

One of the world's strictest lockdowns was put into place in mid-March and managed to eventually reduce the pressure on hospitals after some were overwhelmed with patients suffering from the virus.

Locals have begun returning to beaches as one of the world's most stringent lockdowns has started lifting - Europa Press/Europa Press News

Its official death toll now stands at 27,127, with 240,000 confirmed cases.

The lockdown has been gradually relaxed as the medical situation improves.

Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum was Spain's first large museum to reopen on Monday, with 70 per cent of the country enjoying beaches and restaurants as restrictions are eased.

The country plans to welcome foreign visitors from July 1.

The government has warned, however, that the threat is not over and that the loosening of restrictions could be reversed.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said last weekend he will be asking parliament for an extension of the government's special emergency powers for another two weeks. That enables authorities to order people to stay home.

Mr Simon said recent hot spots caused by people holding unauthorised "fiestas" risked potentially causing a fresh upsurge.

Visitors use an app to enter the Guggenheim Museum on the day it reopens its doors following a three-month closure - VINCENT WEST/REUTERS

"We are still at risk. Any of these outbreaks can mean a new wave of infections," he said. "We must remain cautious.”

On Sunday, Sweden also reported zero coronavirus deaths over the previous 24 hours.

However, the health ministry expressed caution as in previous weekends, authorities reported a low death toll only for a steeper rise to return in the following days when the reporting caught up.

Last week, the Scandinavian country reported the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in Europe per capita over a seven-day-period.

Sweden has faced both criticism and praise for taking a more relaxed approach to lockdown measures than most other countries.

Other European countries where the virus took a major toll have all seen infections and deaths drop but no major ones had reached the zero mark until now.

Britain on Monday reported 111 more coronavirus deaths - the lowest daily toll since the start of the nationwide lockdown on March 23. The death toll now stands at 39,045.

FC Barcelona players have returned to full training in another sign the Spanish lockdown is easing - MIGUEL RUIZ/FC BARCELONA HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

In France, the latest figures out on Sunday showed 31 deaths in the previous 24 hours in hospitals with those in nursing homes not published until Tuesday, bringing the overall count to 28,802.

Some 1,319 patients remain in intensive care, a net drop of six.

In Italy, deaths climbed by 60 on Monday while the daily tally of new cases fell to just 178 from 355 on Sunday, according to the Civil Protection Agency.

Italy’s total death toll since the outbreak came now stands at 33,475, the third-highest in the world after those of the United States and Britain.

However, at 424, the number of patients in intensive care continued to fall as the country prepares to open up to foreign tourists on Wednesday.