The Spanish government is to tighten its lockdown with the death toll from coronavirus continuing to spiral, so that all but essential activities will stop.
In the past 24 hours, Spain recorded a new high of 838 deaths from COVID-19 to reach an overall total of 6,528, while there have been almost 80,000 cases. Spain is the country second-worst affected by the virus behind Italy.
Prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced the stricter measures, which will be approved by a cabinet meeting on Sunday and will run until 9 April.
“This decision allows us to reduce the number of infected people to a much greater extent,” he said in a televised address to the country.
It means that only essential shops, including those selling food and medicines or providing internet and telecommunications, can stay open.
Sanchez called on Spain to make a “powerful collective effort” over the coming days. He said workers would receive their usual salaries but would have to make up lost hours at a later date.
“We are getting to the peak that we have all been so worried about,” said health emergencies director Fernando Simon. “In some areas of the country we are possibly going beyond” that peak.
Italy registered its highest number of deaths last Friday with 919; the country reported another 899 deaths on Saturday.
Spain has received a delivery of 1.2 million face masks at Madrid Airport, bought by the Ministry of Transport from China for health, transport and postal workers, the government said.
Schools, bars and restaurants have now been closed since 14 March, while most of the population is housebound as Spain tries to curb the spread of the virus.