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Spain death toll breaches 20,000 as COVID-19 rampage continues in Europe

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-04-19 07:52
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People wearing protective face masks walk past the Spanish flag hanging from the balcony above a closed store in Madrid, Spain, on April 18, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

BRUSSELS - The COVID-19 pandemic continued to hit Europe, as more deaths were registered on Saturday in the continent, especially in those worst-affected countries.

Spain became the second European country to have over 20,000 deaths after Italy, while fatalities in France and Britain passed 19,000 and 15,000 respectively.

Across Europe, over 1.08 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and some 97,200 deaths have been reported so far, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Spain seeks state of alarm extension

Spanish Health Ministry on Saturday confirmed that over 20,000 people in the country have lost their lives because of COVID-19.

The daily information published by the ministry showed that 565 people died in the 24-hour period until 21:00 local time on Friday, bringing the death toll to 20,043.

The same period saw 4,499 new cases, pushing the total infections to 191,726.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised press conference later that he would ask the Spanish Parliament to extend the current State of Alarm for a further 15 days until May 9.

Spain imposed the State of Alarm over COVID-19 on March 15, which was extended twice until April 25. Sanchez said he had made the decision after "listening to the experts of the Technical Committee" on the crisis.

"We have done the most difficult things and we have left the most extreme moments of the crisis behind with sacrifice and resilience, but these results are still not enough and still fragile," he said.

"Despite the enormous progress that we have made, it is not possible for us to lift the confinement and move to a phase of scaling down (the lockdown)," said the prime minister.

"Tomorrow I will tell the Presidents of the (17) Autonomous Regions and the Congress of Deputies (lower chamber in the Spanish Parliament) of my wish to extend the State of Alarm until and including May 9."

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