Spanish PM says to ask for final extension to State of Alarm

Madrid, May 17 (IANS) Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he will seek a fifth and final extension to the State of Alarm, which was imposed on March 15 to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking in a televised speech on Saturday, Sanchez said the upcoming final State of Alarm, which will come into effect on May 24 if approved, will be “different” from others, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It is expected to be the last State of Alarm. We are going to request in the Congress of Deputies that it should last for a month,” he said. All the previous four extensions have been 15 days.

There has been increased opposition in Spain to the State of Alarm, which is the first of three emergency levels a Spanish government can apply under exceptional circumstances. It grants the government special powers to limit the movement of citizens, control the means of production, use private assets if needed, and also use the military to carry out essential logistical and supply jobs.

Sanchez insisted the measures had worked. “The path that we are taking is the only one possible,” he said.

On Saturday, Spain's health authorities said 102 new deaths were confirmed in a 24-hour period, the smallest daily increase since the State of Alarm was put into effect.

Sanchez also pointed to the preliminary results from a nationwide coronavirus antibody study, which helped the government gauge the extent of the epidemic.

“Only 5 per cent of Spaniards have been infected,” he said, explaining that the study made clear that the “herd immunity” approach initially favoured in Britain would not have worked.



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