The daily number of coronavirus deaths has dropped in Spain for the fourth year in a row, raising hopes that the country has passed the peak of the outbreak.
The increase of 637 deaths on Monday means a total of 13,055 people have died.
The nation has more than 135,000 confirmed cases, most in Europe, but new infections have slowed.
In Italy, the number of new infections decreased by 1,031 on Monday to 1,941, but the death toll rose to 636 – more than 100 more than the previous day.
The slowdown in infection rates in a number of European countries gives reason to hope that strict social distance measures will curb the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
On Monday, the Austrian chancellor announced plans to ease some of the restrictions posed by the pandemic.
Nearly 1.3 million cases and 70,800 deaths have been confirmed worldwide since the virus hit China in December, according to Johns Hopkins University.
What are the latest Spanish numbers?
Monday’s numbers show an increase of 4,273 new confirmed cases, a national total of 135,032.
Spain’s total number of cases is the second largest after the United States with a much larger population.
The country with 47 million inhabitants has the second highest death toll worldwide after Italy. However, the number of 637 on Monday is the lowest in almost two weeks since March 24.
It’s a drop in the 674 new deaths that were confirmed on Sunday. The daily death toll reached a high of 950 last Thursday.
María José Sierra, deputy head of the Spanish Health Emergency Committee, said the pandemic’s growth rate had slowed “in almost every region” in the country.
Officials plan to extend coronavirus testing to those with no symptoms.
“It is important to know who is contaminated in order to gradually lift the blockade of Spanish citizens,” Foreign Minister Arancha González said in a television interview.
Checkpoints were lifted on Monday in a number of severely affected cities in the Catalonia region.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said last weekend that some restrictions, including keeping nonessential workers at home, could be lifted after Easter.
Businesses, including shops and restaurants, have been closed since March 14, and residents have been instructed to stay at home and only go outside to do essential tasks.
What is happening elsewhere in Europe?
The pandemic has claimed more than 50,000 lives across the continent.
The death toll in Italy is the highest in the world at 16,523.
The Department of Civil Protection reported 636 new deaths on Monday. That’s 111 more than the toll on Sunday – the lowest since March 19 – but 45 less than on Saturday.
The number of new infections increased by 1,941, but continued the downward trend.
In Austria, where a total of 220 deaths have been reported, Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced plans to relax some of the restrictions imposed there. If Austrians continued to adhere to current measures, smaller, non-essential businesses could be reopened in just over a week, he said.
In the meantime, the French finance minister warned that the economic slowdown this year would most likely be the worst for the country since World War II.