Spain PM sees ‘fire coming under control’

Spain PM sees 'fire coming under control'

MADRID: Spain is close to passing the worst of its coronavirus outbreak, the prime minister said, as the Spanish parliament approved a 15-day extension to the national state of emergency. “The fire starts to come under control,” PM Pedro Sanchez told MPs in Madrid, saying the country would have “total victory” over the virus, the BBC reported.

Spain has Europe’s highest number of confirmed cases, with 152,446. As of Thursday, the country has reported 15,238 deaths. Sanchez is the latest European leader to suggest the situation may be stabilising.

His comments came ahead of news that EU finance ministers had agreed a 500 billion euros ($546bn) rescue package for European countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The deal, reached after marathon discussions in Brussels that began on Tuesday, was announced by the chairman of the Eurogroup finance ministers, Merio Centeno.

The French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, said the agreement was the most important economic plan in EU history. The ministers fell short of accepting a demand by France and Italy to share out the cost of the crisis by issuing so-called “corona bonds” (or eurobonds) – mutualised debt that all EU nations help to pay off.

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country rejected a plan to share out coronavirus-incurred debt in the form of “coronabonds” (or eurobonds) – mutualised debt that all EU nations help to pay off.

“You know that I don’t believe we should have common debt because of the situation of our political union and that’s why we reject this… but there are so many ways to show solidarity and I believe we will find a good solution,” she said. According to latest data from the past 24 hours, Spain has recorded 683 deaths – a drop from the 757 reported on Wednesday.

Total confirmed cases now stand at 152,446, and Spain has now reported the second-highest number worldwide after the US, which has more than 400,000. On Thursday, Spanish lawmakers participated remotely in a parliamentary debate before agreeing hours later to extend the country’s state of emergency until 26 April, keeping people at home for a further two weeks.

Spain has imposed some of the strictest measures in Europe. But Sanchez said they had helped drastically cut the infection rate. Europe is still the region hardest-hit by the outbreak worldwide, suffering the majority of deaths and confirmed cases.