The Spanish government has announced its plans to extend the state of alarm currently in force to curb the spread of coronavirus for two more weeks, until 26 April.
The country has been in lockdown since the middle of March with all non-essential activity banned. The current two-week emergency period ends on 11 April and the new extension will need to be passed by MPs in Spain's Congreso.
The decision comes after prime minister Pedro Sánchez held a meeting on Saturday with the scientific committee responsible for analysing the evolution of the pandemic in Spain.
"Today we know that our efforts have been worthwhile; they have served to reduce the percentage of new cases of infection, to see how the number of patients being discharged is multiplying and to save lives, tens of thousands of lives that the virus would have taken without the work of the healthcare professionals and without the measures to restrict movement that we decreed," said Sánchez on Saturday.
Daily new coronavirus case figures are falling
Fernando Simón, Sánchez's main advisor on the coronavirus health crisis, said on Friday that, despite the positive figures - the daily increase in new cases is falling - the population was still required to "maximise precautions to avoid a new spike in figures".
Saturday's official figures showed an increase of 7,026 cases in 24 hours, taking the total up to 124,736. The increase announced the previous day was 7,472.
The daily increase in deaths announced on Saturday was the lowest this week - 809 - making the total 11,744. The previous day's increase in deaths was 932.
The government now has to seek the support of opposition groups so that the extension of the state of alarm, allowing an extension of the lockdown, can be approved by MPs in Congreso.
The decision to extend the state of alarm is expected to be formalised in a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and voted by MPs on Thursday.