Spain announces record 838 virus deaths in 24 hours

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Spain confirmed another 838 deaths in 24 hours from coronavirus on Sunday, a new daily record bringing the total number of deaths to 6,528, according to health ministry figures.

The number of confirmed cases in Spain has now reached 78,797—after the one-day increase of 9.1 percent—as the country battles the world's second most deadly outbreak after Italy.

Except for a brief lull recorded on Thursday, Spain's death toll has been rising daily.

However, officials have pointed to a slower growth rate for both deaths and confirmed cases and expressed hope that the peak of the outbreak was approaching.

"The spread (of the pandemic) appears to be stabilising. It even appears to be in retreat, but we have to remember that our fundamental problem at the moment is to ensure the intensive care units are not saturated," said Fernando Simon, the health ministry's emergencies coordinator.

Simon said that six out of a total 17 regions "have reached their capacity limit and three more are fast approaching that stage."

The toughening of the current lockdown conditions should help the situation, he added.

Spain also reported Sunday that 14,709 people had been cured of COVID-19, a rise of 19.7 percent in 24 hours.

Like Italy, Spain on Saturday tightened measures to contain the outbreak, ordering a halt to all "non-essential" activities.

Currently, people in Spain are authorised to leave home for work if remote work is not possible, to buy food, get medical care or briefly walk their dog.

"All workers in non-essential economic activities must stay at home for two weeks," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.

The health, food and energy sectors are among areas considered to be essential.

An emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday decided on the details of the new measures.

From Monday only essential services will be allowed to function until at least Thursday April 4, the meeting decided.

That means other sectors, including construction and most office work will be halted

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