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Spain has small dip in coronavirus, plans to ease restrictions

Spain has small dip in coronavirus, plans to ease restrictions
A worker disinfects with ozone one of the rooms of the Casablanca retirement home in the working-class district of Villaverde, Madrid, Spain, on Saturday. Photo by Mariscal/EPA-EFE

April 11 (UPI) -- Spain has announced plans to ease work restrictions as the hard-hit country reported a dip in coronavirus deaths Saturday.

Spanish health officials said 510 people died from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, a decline compared to the previous day's toll of more than 600. Overall, Spain has reported 16,353 deaths from the virus and 161,852 cases, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

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Spain's death toll is second only to Italy (18,849) in Europe. But Spain also has one of the largest number of recoveries, at nearly 60,000.

Overall, COVID-19 has sickened more than 1.7 million people and killed at least 103,000.

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Government officials in Spain say they're considering plans to slowly ease restrictions, allowing some people, such as construction workers, to return to work Monday. Transportation workers will also start heading back to work.

But Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said the country isn't easing up on its efforts to fight the spread of the virus.

"Spain continues in a state of lockdown," he said during a news conference Friday.

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Illa said Spain has been able to "slow down the pandemic" with lockdown and social distancing orders.

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"The data shows that we are meeting our objectives, but we remain in an important phase of the pandemic," he added.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he plans to extend the lockdown beyond its current end date of April 26.

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Austria, too, plans to start easing its lockdown, opening some smaller shops after Easter.

Ecuador, meanwhile, reported its target single-day increase in cases Friday, with 2,196 new cases, bringing its total to 7,161. There have been 297 deaths, a figure that's overwhelming the country's hospital and mortuary capacities.

With a lack of services in the country's largest city -- Guayaquil -- caskets have been lined up in the streets, with no one to take them for burial.

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Mayor Cynthia Viteri said she expects the city's death toll is even higher than reported.

"Can I explain why? Because tests were not available before, they die without being tested, and there is no space to conduct autopsies and the subsequent examinations," she said.

Scenes from a pandemic: World copes with COVID-19

A health worker with the Israeli national emergency service, Magen David Adam, wears protective gear while taking swabs to test for COVID-19 at a drive-through testing center in East Jerusalem on August 26. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

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