The number of coronavirus deaths in Spain has fallen for the third day in a row – a glimmer of hope in the hard-hit country where more than 12,400 have died.
The fall is part of a pattern in other European countries which imposed a stringent lockdown several weeks ago, with France and parts of Italy also seeing falls in the number of daily deaths.
France on Saturday saw its daily death toll fall to 441 from 588 on Friday.
Italy, on the same day, registered 681 deaths having reported 766 deaths the day before.
Sky’s Alex Rossi, in Madrid, said there was “muted optimism” as a result of the Spanish figures.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told the nation on Saturday: “We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The number who have died in Spain now has reached 12,418. The number reported as having died in Italy on Saturday was 15,362 with 7,560 in France.
Despite the lockdown appearing to reduce the number of deaths, authorities have made it clear they have no immediate intention of lifting the restrictions.
Mr Sanchez said on Saturday he would ask parliament to extend his country’s lockdown by 15 days until 26 April.
He added a team of experts was also studying how restrictions could be gradual loosened to reactive the country’s economy.
Meanwhile, Italy’s virus-ravaged Lombardy region is now requiring residents to wear a protective mask when they go outside.
It follows similar orders in recent days in two other northern regions, hard-hit Veneto and Alto Adige, which require protective masks for residents if they go shopping in stores and markets.
All of Italy is under a nationwide lockdown and Lombardy has passed particularly tight restrictions on movement and business operations.
It comes amid a growing appreciation that the official death toll may be masking the true number dying.
Interviews by Reuters with families, doctors and nurses in Lombardy indicate that scores are dying at home as symptoms go unchecked and medical professionals are unable to visit the sick before they pass away.
In Bergamo province, where Sky News witnessed horrific scenes in the main hospital and where the mayor told Stuart Ramsay he was convinced the death toll was higher than that being reported, a recent study of death records found the true number could be more than double the official tally of 2,060, which only tracks hospital fatalities.
In France, the centralised state has allowed authorities to take extraordinary measures in an attempt to save lives.
Europe’s biggest food market, in Rungis, south of Paris, is being transformed into a morgue.
The country’s high-speed train network has been whooshing critically ill COVID-19 patients and the breathing machines to locations where they can be looked after better.
TGV trains are just one part of France’s nationwide mobilisation of trains, helicopters, jets and even a warship, to relieve congested hospitals.
Nearly 7,000 patients are in intensive care in France, pushing hospitals to their limit and beyond.
In Germany, which has been reporting a lower fatality rate than other European countries, the official toll rose by 184 to 1,342.
But, health authorities reported that the number of new infections rose by 5,936 in the past 24 hours to
91,714 on Sunday, the third straight drop in the daily rate of new cases.
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