Although new coronavirus infections continue to rise in Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Tuesday he does not intend to extend the country’s state of emergency beyond May 9.
That is when the emergency legislation, which gives the government powers to enforce curfews and restrict mobility, is set to expire.
At a press conference, Sanchez said the country’s regional governments will still be able to enforce some restrictions to curb contagion.
“We're at the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Science is the solution to this incredible problem … We will recover normality thanks to the vaccination,” he said.
Sanchez blamed vaccine maker AstraZeneca for delays in Spain's rollout, but said the country is still on track to vaccinate 33 million people by the end of August.
Yet some experts question whether Spain, which has administered fewer than 9 million single jabs so far, will be ready to lift measures next month.
“We shouldn’t close the door to extending the state of emergency. The vaccine will not be enough to control the pandemic in May,” said Daniel Lopez Acuna, former head of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Sanchez also said that by mid-June the European Union should have a functioning health passport that would help people travel more freely, particularly those who have recovered from the virus or have been vaccinated.
The government of the tourist hub of Andalusia said the government needs to vaccinate faster to save the summer tourism season.
“What does it matter if 70% of the population is vaccinated after the high season is finished?” asked government spokesperson Elias Bendodo. “You have to send out floatation devices before we drown.”
Spain’s 14-day infection rate inched up slightly on Tuesday, with 78,154 people now infected in the last two weeks.
Meanwhile, hospitalizations surged, with 519 more COVID-19 patients being admitted than released and 65 more people in intensive care.
Another 128 people lost their lives, bringing Spain’s official COVID-19 death toll to 75,911.
Image Credit: © AA
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