Spain's death toll from coronavirus rose at a slower pace on Saturday but surpassed 20,000 fatalities as the government mulled whether to ask Parliament for a third extension of the confinement imposed in one of the world's hardest hit countries.
The number of deaths increased by 565 on Saturday, compared to 585 on Friday and the number of new coronavirus cases rose to 191,726 from 188,068.
"The data of hospitalised, deceased and ICU admissions have maintained a downward trend the past few days," said Health Emergency Chief, Fernando Simon, adding that he hoped to see a steeper decrease soon.
Simon said he expected a significant rise in registered coronavirus cases as the number of quick tests conducted has doubled in the past three weeks, but stressed that the tests have shown a lower infection rate among citizens.
Spain has begun to ease the strict lockdown imposed on March 14 and this week opened up some sectors of the economy, including manufacturing. But most people are still confined to their houses except for essential outings like shopping for food and children are not allowed out for exercise.
On April 9, Parliament approved a 15-day extension of the State of Emergency that brought in the lockdown measures. The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez said at the time that he was certain he would have to ask for another extension, which would go into May.
According to the Spanish television channel, TVE, lawmakers will likely vote on it on Wednesday.
The Technical Panel that advises Prime Minister Sanchez is in favour of extending the confinement measures, Simon said, but added that they could be progressively eased if it was assessed that the health system could handle a potential second wave of infection.
"We are very close to de-escalation" he said, without elaborating.
Madrid Mayor, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida told a Spanish radio station that it was possible that large events and gatherings will be banned nationwide until the autumn.
Spain's Labour Minister, Yolanda Diaz said on Friday her department was planning a two-phased economic resumption, the first for Productive Sectors up to the summer and a second for Tourism & Leisure which would last until the end of the year.
The final decision will depend on advice from the Health Authorities, the Labour department said in a statement.