The Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, warned that abruptly ending nearly eight weeks of lockdown would be “unforgivable” as he sought parliamentary approval to re-extend the state of emergency.
“Ignoring the risk posed by the epidemic and lifting the state of emergency very quickly would be absolutely wrong, a total, unforgivable error,” he told parliament as he sought support for a fresh extension of the measure, which has been rejected by his rightwing opponents.
In place since 14 March, the state of emergency has allowed the leftwing coalition government to order a strict confinement of nearly 47 million Spaniards under one of the tightest lockdowns in the world, that has only recently been slightly eased.
Extended three times as Spain has sought to fight a virus that has now killed 25,857 people and infected more than 220,000 in the country, the current measures are to expire at midnight on Saturday.
The latest daily death toll on Wednesday showed a slight increase, rising to 244 after three days when it stayed below 200 - a far cry from the 950 deaths of 2 April when the epidemic peaked.
“We are progressing very well. It would be very sad if through leaving the lockdown faster than recommended we lost everything we’ve worked for,” warned Fernando Simon, who heads the health ministry’s emergencies department.
Earlier this week, Spain’s main opposition Popular Party said it would not support any extension of the state of emergency.