Spain PM seeks 2-week extension of lockdown

Spain PM seeks 2-week  extension of lockdown

Protesters in Madrid raise slogans against the government for mishandling of the coronavirus situation. AFP

Madrid, May 20

Spain’s fragile left-wing coalition sought support from political foes to extend a state of emergency on Wednesday as public protests simmered over the coronavirus crisis' damage to the economy and tough social restrictions.

Even though deaths are slowing and Spain hopes to mostly lift a strict lockdown by the end of June, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wants to keep special powers for two more weeks to control the easing of restrictions.

“We have not got this far by inertia, but by the work of the health workers,” Sanchez said. Spain has recorded 27,778 deaths and 232,037 cases of COVID-19, but new fatalities have slowed to under 100 a day. The leader of the conservative People’s Party accused Sanchez of going too far in one of Europe’s toughest lockdowns. “Your plan has been a failure. Confinement prevents contagion but that cannot be an unlimited measure,” Pablo Casado said in parliament. “Your policies are causing wreckage.”

With Spain’s tourism-dependent economy forecast to contract up to 12.4% in 2020, frustration is boiling into protests. Groups of up to several hundred demonstrators have been gathering daily to bang pots outside homes and call for the government’s resignation, violating social-distancing rules. —Reuters

COMBATTING THE VIRUS

  • US immunotherapy company Inovio Pharmaceuticals said its experimental vaccine was shown to produce antibodies and immune system responses in mice and guinea pigs.
  • The United States, Mexico and Canada said on Tuesday they would extend a ban on non-essential cross-border travel by another 30 days.
  • The WHO expressed concern on Wednesday said 1,06,000 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, the most in a single day since the outbreak began.
  • Brazil’s daily toll jumped to a record 1,179 on Tuesday as President Jair Bolsonaro doubled down on chloroquine as a possible remedy, while Donald Trump said he was considering banning travel to and from Brazil.
  • Cambridge has become the first university in Britain to cancel all face-to-face lectures for the 2020-21 academic year after 800 years of welcoming students to its cloisters, quadrangles and classrooms.

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