In Covid-19 updates from Europe and the UK, deaths fall in Italy, Spain introduces tougher measures and Britons get a warning.

Fewer deaths in Italy but restrictions look set to be extended

There have been 756 deaths in Italy in the last day, bringing the total to 10,779 – more than a third of all deaths from the virus worldwide.

There were 133 fewer deaths than the 889 deaths reported on Saturday, when the numbers fell from a record high of 919 on Friday.

While the total number of confirmed cases rose to 97,689 on Sunday from a previous 92,472, it was the lowest daily rise in new cases since Wednesday.

But despite hopes by Italian officials that the downward trend would continue, it appeared increasingly likely that restrictions on all but essential activities that were due to expire on Friday would be soon officially extended.

“The measures that were due to expire on April 3 inevitably will be extended,” Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia told Sky TG24 television.

He said the timing would be decided by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the government based on data from the medical and scientific community.

Spain introduces tougher restrictions

Spain prepared to enter its third week under near-total lockdown on Sunday, as the government approved a strengthening of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus and the death toll rose by 838 cases overnight to 6528.

Second only to Italy in fatalities, Spain also saw infections rise to 78,797 from 72,248 the day before.

In a televised address, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that all non-essential workers must stay at home for two weeks, the latest government measure in the fight against coronavirus.

He said workers would receive their usual salaries but would have to make up lost hours at a later date. The measure would last from 30 March to 9 April.

Health emergency chief Fernando Simon repeated a warning that intensive care wards were becoming saturated, but said cases were stabilizing and “the rise in new cases has been falling for a few days”.

Schools, bars, restaurants and shops selling non-essential items have been shut since 14 March and most of the population is house-bound as Spain tries to curb the virus.

Britons warned some lockdown measures could last for months

Some lockdown measures to combat coronavirus in Britain could last months and only be gradually lifted, a senior medical official said on Sunday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the situation will get worse before it gets better.

Britain has reported 19,522 confirmed cases of the disease and 1228 deaths, after an increase of 209 fatalities as of 5pm local time on Saturday compared with the previous day, the health ministry said.

“The important thing is this is a moving target,” Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said.

“This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months but it means that as a nation we have to be really, really responsible and keep doing what we are all doing until we are sure that we can gradually start lifting various interventions.”

Her warning came as Johnson wrote to 30 million households in Britain urging them to stick to strict rules to prevent the publicly funded National Health Service (NHS) from being overwhelmed by a surge in cases.

The number of tests being carried out has hit 10,000 a day, senior minister Michael Gove said and authorities are trying to acquire more ventilators.

– Reuters

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