Europe reached a somber marker on Sunday, surpassing 100,000 coronavirus deaths across the continent, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
Italy continued to have the highest European death toll in the pandemic with more than 23,000 deaths as of Sunday, followed by Spain, France and the United Kingdom.
Despite those staggering numbers, Italy has nudged closer to easing some lockdown measures, but restrictions remain largely in place. The Italian government said it was evaluating procedures for how best to allow citizens out again.
“We are working on some proposals to soften the restrictive measures and let everyone live safely with the virus during the next months,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told Italian newspaper “Il Giornale”, on Sunday morning.
The government is under pressure from its industrial northern region to reopen as soon as possible, but lockdown measures will remain in place until at least May 3, officials said.
Meanwhile in Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said his government would begin easing measures and allowing children under 12 to play outdoors for short periods of time. The country’s lockdown will remain in place until at least May 9, he said during a televised national address on Saturday. Warning “the goals we’ve achieved so far are fragile.”
Britain is fast becoming the European epicenter of the contagion, as deaths passed 16,000 people on Sunday. Healthcare workers criticized the government over the weekend for shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gowns and face shields.
“Too many healthcare workers have already died. More doctors and their colleagues cannot be expected to put their own lives on the line in a bid to save others,” said Rob Harwood of the British Medical Association, a professional body which represents medical staff.