MADRID: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed on Saturday that he would ask for the State of Alarm to be extended till April 25 to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Sanchez explained the "hard" decision in a televised press conference after meeting with the government's Technical Committee for the coronavirus and after the Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare confirmed the number of cases of the coronavirus had reached 124,736 while the death toll climbed to 11,744.
The Health Ministry figures also show that the number of new cases is falling on a daily basis, while the number of deaths in a 24-hour period has also dropped for the past two days.
The State of Alarm over COVID-19 first came into effect in the country on March 15.
The prime minister said the data proved that "weeks of isolation and collective sacrifice" were working but Spain needed "to maintain the same discipline and the same tenacity."
"Following the recommendations of the experts and also the scientists who advise the government of Spain, I am announcing that the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday will once again ask for the permission of Congress to extend the State of Alarm for a second time from April 12th until 24 hours on Saturday April 25th," he confirmed.
He said the three weeks of lockdown in Spain to date "have slowed the spread of the virus; they have slowed the number of people going to hospital and they have allowed the number of people leaving hospital to increase."
"They have saved thousands and thousands of lives," Sanchez noted. Nonetheless, he warned "if the rise in new cases was steep, the decline is not going to be easy."
He also advised that when the State of Alarm ends, the government would continue with restrictions on movement.
"It will last for a time afterwards; it will be the shortest time possible depending on the efficiency of the measures we have imposed and on how much the Spanish people respect them," the prime minister noted.
Sanchez made an appeal to the European Union for solidarity, saying it "could not fail this time" in approving measures for economic reconstruction after the crisis ends.
Sanchez's cabinet will meet on Tuesday to approve the extension of the State of Alarm before a special session of Parliament gives its go-ahead.
A State of Alarm is the first of three emergency levels a Spanish government can apply under exceptional circumstances, with the others being a 'A State of Exception' and 'Martial Law' (Estado de Sitio). A State of Alarm grants the government special powers to limit the movement of citizens, to control the means of production and use private assets if needed and also to use the military to carry out essential logistical and supply jobs.