Spain's coronavirus deaths surpass 20,000 as lockdown extended

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has moved to extend the country's lockdown a further two weeks as the coronavirus death toll rose above 20,000.

The trial will use blood plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19 infections.

The trial will use blood plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19 infections. Source: AAP

The Spanish government plans to extend a nationwide lockdown by about two weeks after the coronavirus death toll rose to 20,043.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's request to prolong the stay-at-home order to May 9 must still be signed off by parliament, but approval is considered all but certain after the opposition expressed support.

Mr Sanchez said in a speech the extension was needed despite the steady progress being made to control the coronavirus outbreak.

"We have done the hardest part through responsibility and social discipline... we are putting the most extreme moments behind us," Mr Sanchez said.

For five weeks, Spain's nearly 47 million citizens have been allowed to leave their homes in only a few exceptional cases - mainly to go to work, the doctor, or the grocery store.

Unlike in other countries, outdoor walks and sports are strictly prohibited.

The current lockdown is set to end on April 27.

An additional 565 people died over the previous day, the health ministry reported on Saturday.

Spain is the third hardest-hit country in the world after the US and Italy.

COVID-19 patients at a Madrid field hospital, 11 April, 2020.
Source: AAP

Head of the health emergency services Fernando Simon said the strict curfew, in place since mid-March, seems to be helping as the rate of transmission is slowing.

Simon said he expects the numbers to fall even more steeply in the coming days.

Over the past 24 hours, there have been 4500 new infections, bringing the total to nearly 192,000.

The infection growth rate has fallen to 2.4 per cent, from highs of 20 per cent.

Recoveries have risen by 3000 to 75,000.

Pressure on hospitals and intensive care units, which were on the verge of collapse in some regions, is also continually decreasing, according to authorities.

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Published 19 April 2020 at 7:02am, updated 19 April 2020 at 7:25am