Madrid: The pace of coronavirus deaths in Spain ticked up for the first time in five days on Tuesday, with 743 people succumbing overnight, but there was still hope the national lockdown might be eased soon.
Tuesday's toll from the health ministry compared to 637 people who died during the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 13,798, the second highest in the world after Italy.
Still, the proportional daily increase of 5.7 per cent was about half that reported a week ago.
"It is normal to have some oscillations ... What matters is to see the trend and the cumulative data," said Maria Jose Sierra, deputy chief of health emergencies, adding that latest data included some delayed notifications from the weekend.
Total cases rose to 140,510 - the highest in Europe and second in the world after the United States.
Plan to lift restrictions
As officials worked on a plan to lift some of the tough restrictions in place that have shut down non-core firms, the Spanish unit of Germany's Volkswagen said it may partially reopen its plant in northern Navarra region in two weeks.
"We will try to do everything possible to resume on April 20," said a spokesman for the plant, adding that all workers would wear masks and gloves and disinfection would be used.
The plant was shut down in mid-March after the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the supply chain.
For restrictions to be lifted, officials say testing has to be widened, to find carriers who may have mild or no symptoms.
The government is planning mass, quick antibody tests in coming days. Cadena Ser radio said about 62,000 people would be tested twice with an interval of 21 days to see the effect of any easing of measures on contagion.
Care homes for the elderly have been among the worst-hit by the pandemic, accounting for a third of all deaths, according to some estimates. But not all were the source of bad news.
Care staff applauded
In the northern Basque city of Guernica, relatives, neighbours and the local fire brigade applauded care staff at the Juan Calzado nursing home, dancing to the sound of loud pop music played via loudspeakers. The staff decided to move in with its virus-free residents for 15 days so as not to expose them to contagion from the outside, Reuters footage showed.
"I am staying home, with my other family!" said home director Visi Garcia.