SPAIN has imposed an even more drastic lockdown after registering a new single-day record of deaths of 838.
In total, 6,528 people with coronavirus have now died in the country out of 78,797 confirmed cases, its health ministry said.
Only Italy’s single-day death tally is worse than Spain’s — with 969 dying there from Covid-19 in the 24 hours between Thursday and Friday.
Spain has tightened restrictions on its population by ordering all but non-essential workers to stay indoors. The latest on a range of work activities begins today and will last until April 9.
Prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced the measures in an address to the nation on Saturday evening.
He said: ‘If we achieve the level of mobility we’re seeing at weekends on working days, we can halt even more the spread of this pandemic.’
His announcement came as no surprise as ministers had hinted that a tightening of the work regulations was being looked at earlier in the week.
People employed in factories that are not producing food, medical equipment or other essentials, plus workers in the construction industry will join bar, restaurant and other staff who have already spent two weeks in lockdown.
The measures will not affect medical workers, police officers and lorry drivers transporting food and other basic commodities. Supermarket staff will also continue to work.
In his address, Mr Sanchez also called for a more vigorous response from the EU. ‘It is the most difficult moment for the EU since its foundation and it has to be ready to rise to the challenge,’ he said.
Meanwhile, moves by Germany to accept some critically-ill French and Italian patients for healthcare across the borders have been welcomed.
The German Air Force tweeted that one of its planes flew two patients from Strasbourg, eastern France, to Ulm in the south-eastern German region of Baden-Württemberg. Eight French and Italian patients were similarly transferred to hospitals in Bochum, Bonn, Cologne and Essen on Saturday.
France’s defence minister Florence Parly thanked Germany ‘for mobilising to take care of French people and for embodying even greater solidarity: Europe watching over Europeans’.
She also revealed some patients from the eastern city of Mulhouse had been transferred to Switzerland. France has also begun moving patients from the stricken eastern region of the country to the west in a specially adapted TGV train. The service from Strasbourg to the Loire region can carry four patients and six care workers in each carriage.
By Saturday, the coronavirus had claimed 2,314 lives in France, with more than 37,575 confirmed cases.