Spain saw its third consecutive daily decline in the number of people dying from the coronavirus pandemic as the country recorded another 674 fatalities on Sunday.
The health ministry said total deaths were now 12,418, the highest in the world after Italy, since the pandemic emerged in China in December.
The 674 fatalities, which were sharply down on the record 950 recorded on April 2, represented an increase of 5.7 percent over the last 24 hours, compared to a 30 percent leap in one recent day.
The number of infections rose 4.8 percent to 130,759, indicating a slowdown in the spread from 8.2 percent on April 1 and 14 percent 10 days ago.
The number of people declared to have recovered has increased by 11 percent, rising above 38,080.
The authorities say they believe they have stabilized the spread of the virus but have decided to extend until midnight April 25 a strict lockdown imposed on Spain’s 46.6 million people since March 14.
“The data show the curve has stabilized” and the epidemic has entered a “slowdown” phase, Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said last Thursday.
The global death toll in the coronavirus crisis soared past 60,000 on Saturday, with 1,215,940 people infected and 65,666 dead worldwide as of Sunday afternoon.
The latest milestone came as Britain recorded a new daily high in fatalities, including a five-year-old child believed to be the nation’s youngest COVID-19 victim.
Europe continued to bear the brunt of the pandemic, but official figures suggested the unprecedented measures to restrict people’s movement were having an effect.
Although the picture was grim in Britain where the overall death toll climbed to more than 4,300 out of nearly 42,000 cases, other countries saw reason for cautious optimism.
Italy reported Friday that the daily rise of officially registered infections dropped to a new low of just four percent, while the number of people who had fully recovered was rising.
“The numbers are improving,” said Giuli Gallera, chief medical officer of Italy’s worst-hit Lombardy region.
“Our hospitals are starting to breathe.”
Despite these early indications that the lockdowns are starting to have an effect, European governments have warned citizens not to expect a loosening of the restrictions anytime soon.
In Germany, where the death toll rose again on Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said figures showing the virus’s spread was slowing “give us a little bit of hope.”
“But it is definitely much too early to see a clear trend in that, and it is certainly too early to think in any way about relaxing the strict rules we have given ourselves,” she said.
But the situation is rapidly deteriorating in the United States, where worst affected New York state reported a record 630 deaths in a single day.
US President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday suggested simple masks or scarves might help stem the rocketing infection rate.
In France, 160,000 police officers and gendarmes fanned out nationwide to ensure people were heeding confinement rules despite the start of Easter holidays, when French families traditionally head to the beach, countryside or mountains.
“The worst is yet to come,” UN chief Antonio Guterres said, referring to countries such as Syria, Libya and Yemen. “The COVID-19 storm is now coming to all these theaters of conflict.”
The impoverished West African nation of Liberia, meanwhile, announced that a 72-year-old man had become its first coronavirus fatality.
The world economy has been pummeled by the virus and associated lockdowns, with millions more people signing on for unemployment payments in the United States.
Financial ratings agency Fitch predicted the US and eurozone economies would shrink this quarter by up to 30 percent.
Latin America is heading into a “deep recession” with an expected drop of 1.8 to 4.0 percent in GDP, according to the United Nations.