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Pandemic slows in Spain as political tensions rise

Madrid, April 16 (IANS) As the spread of the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down in Spain, opposition parties have intensified their criticism of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government over its management of the health crisis amid fresh calls for an extension of the lockdown.

The country has been one of the worst affected by the global health crisi, with 180,659 confirmed cases and 18,812 deaths, Efe news reported.

Sanchez has been urging the leaders of opposition parties to come together this week to start work on a national pact to guide the country out of the health crisis and ensure socio-economic stability.

But the leader of the conservative Popular Party, Pablo Casado, has delayed his scheduled sit-down with the Prime Minister until at least next week.

“If you want to make a pact, and I doubt you really do, do it with transparency and stenographers here in Parliament,” he told Sanchez during a parliamentary session.

“We do not want to be part of your puppet show.”

Round-table negotiations in Spain usually start with a meeting between the Prime Minister and the next biggest opposition party in the chamber but this week Sanchez will kick off proceedings with a video call with Ines Arrimadas, leader of Ciudadanos, the sixth largest party in terms of seats.

It was the first such parliamentary debate to take place since the state of emergency came into effect in Spain a month ago.

Sanchez said he would submit a further extension of the lockdown — until May 11 — to lawmakers on April 22.

Meanwhile, he number of new infections detected in Spain Wednesday jumped to 5,092, well above the recent daily average of about 3,000.

Fernando Simon, the head of the department of public health emergencies, attributed this to an accumulation of data from the Easter holiday period as well as increased testing in all Spanish regions, including asymptomatic carriers.

Some 70,853 people have recovered since the outbreak began.

–IANS

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