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Coronavirus cases top 1.8 million globally

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will lift some restrictions on movement and service despite thousands of new cases of the coronavirus being reported in the country daily.

Speaking in an Easter Sunday news conference, Sánchez warned the Spanish people against complacency as the rate of infections and deaths from coronavirus continues to slow.

“I want to be clear, we are not even entering phase two …The state of alarm continues, consequently the general confinement continues.”

Sánchez said that the lifting of restrictions, some of which will begin on Monday, would be progressive and measured. Spain has been one of the countries most heavily-affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with at least 166,831 infections and 17,209 fatalities as of Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Markers would be established to measure the infection rate and the capacity of Spain’s health system, and those markers will determine which restrictions to lift. Above all, he said, the progress in combating the virus would not be put at risk.

Sanchez said he took responsibility for insufficient supplies of protective equipment such as masks — but the whole world had been unprepared. “Spain has begun to guarantee systematic provision of these materials,” and was taking “indescribable” steps to protect health care personnel. 

In the face of growing criticism from other parties of the government’s handling of the virus, Sánchez also called for a united political response — in Spain and in Europe. He proposed “a great bargain” between political parties in Spain to begin the recovery — a display of unity to match that of the Spanish people.

“No word will come from my lips but unity,” he said.

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