The coronavirus has claimed at least 15,843 lives in Spain and has officially infected 152,446 people, but both the rate of contagion and mortality are dropping, official health ministry data showed on Friday.

The 605 new deaths recorded overnight were the lowest increase since March 24. There were 4,576 more recorded infections than a day earlier, reducing the daily rate of contagion to 3%.

The Spanish government was meeting on Friday to establish a 20 billion-euro (£17.5 billion) fund to help small businesses and the self-employed cope with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 outbreak, but it will also discuss what comes next for 47 million Spaniards who have been quarantined for four weeks.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

After a two-week freeze of all non-essential economic activity, factories and construction sites are set to resume work on Monday. Schools, most shops and offices will remain closed, with people encouraged to work from home.

Experts have warned that the return of certain activity will increase contagion and that health authorities need to scrutinise any new cases.

A three-week survey of 30,000 households should help understand how many people are or have been infected and guide future “de-escalation” of the confinement measures, the government has said.

The state of emergency has been extended to April 26 for now, although Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said he will most likely be asking parliament for further extensions.