Spain's prime minister appears before parliament on Wednesday to ask for its endorsement to extend the state of emergency that his government has used to rein in the country's coronavirus outbreak that has killed at least 27,000 people.
It would be the fifth two-week extension to the state of emergency, which is currently set to expire on Sunday. The government wants to extend it until June 7.
"The path we are on is the only one that can possibly beat the virus," Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told a chamber with only a handful of members to limit contagion risks. "Thanks to all the parliament members who have supported the state of emergency because with their vote they have saved thousands of lives." Since the start of the national lockdown on March 14, Spain has lowered a rampant COVID-19 virus contagion rate that was well over 20% to under 1% over the past week.
More than 230,000 infections have been confirmed by laboratory tests in Spain.
Sánchez argues that Spain still needs to keep a tight, centralized control over the health situation as it starts to loosen restrictions and restart economic activity. Small shops have reopened in most of the country, but not in hard-hit Madrid and Barcelona.