The number of people dying from COVID-19 dropped to its lowest level in over a month in the three European countries most impacted by the pandemic, official figures show.
Italian authorities said on Sunday that 260 people had succumbed to the disease over the previous 24 hours — the lowest daily increase since March 14.
In France, the daily death toll stood at 242 on Sunday, a level not observed since early March while in Spain, the number of fatalities dropped to 288, the lowest figure since March 20 and a sharp decline from the 378 registered on Saturday.
It comes as the country lifted some more restrictions on Sunday, allowing children to step outside of their house for the first time in six weeks.
More than 23,000 people have now lost their lives to the pandemic in Spain, the third-highest tally in the world after the US and Italy.
But the authorities, who believe the worst is now over, have taken steps to ease one of the world’s toughest lockdown imposed on March 14.
From today (April 26), children under the age of 14 are allowed out once a day for one hour between 9.00 am and 9.00 pm local time, accompanied by one parent, and no further than one kilometre from their home.
All Spaniards will be allowed out for exercise and to take walks from next weekend, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday.
The government will on Tuesday unveil its broader lockdown exit plan that will likely be put into action in the second half of May, he added.
Italy manufacturing to restart on May 4
Italy, which was the first country to impose lockdown measures in Europe, is set to allow manufacturing to restart on May 4, Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte told La Repubblica newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.
Bars and restaurants will not be allowed to reopen however while school children will not return to their classes before Septemeber, he added.
The country, he said, “is not yet in a position to restore full freedom of movement, but we are studying a relaxation of the current, strict restrictions”.
More than 26,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Italy since the beginning of the outbreak.
British authorities said that a further 413 people had succumbed to the virus on Sunday, bringing the number of deaths recorded in hospitals to 20,732.
Environment Secretary George Eustice, who gave the daily government press briefing from Downing Street, said that the country’s testing capacity had risen to 50,000 a day. The government has previously said it plans to be able to test as many as 100,000 people a day by the end of the month.
A spokesperson for Prime Miniter Boris Johnson, who spent a week in hospital earlier this month where he was put under respiratory assistance after contracting the virus, also announced that the British leader will return to work on Monday (April 27).
Johnson had been resting at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country residence, since his discharge on April 12.
Across the Channel, French authorities announced that the death toll now stands at 22,856 following a sharp day-to-day drop on Sunday. Nearly two thirds of the fatalities were recorded in hospitals, while 8,654 deaths took place in care homes.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is to unveil the government’s lockdown exit strategy to parliament on Tuesday. The first restrictions are to be lifted on May 11, President Emmanuel Macron has previously said.
In Germany, the number of fatalities increased by 140 on Sunday to 5,640 while a further 1,737 cases were detected, bringing the number of infections to 154,175.
The country, which started lifting restrictions last week, is to make face masks mandatory in shops and public transport from Monday.
The global death toll from the pandemic crossed the symbolic 200,000 mark on Saturday, according to a tally from the John Hopkins University. The number of infections, meanwhile, went above 2.9 million on Sunday.
The United States remains the most heavily-impacted country, accounting for a quarter of all fatalities.