Spain has seen a sharp rise in the number of deaths caused by coronavirus but the rate of new infections is stabilising, officials say.
Confirmed cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, rose to 64,059, a 14% increase compared with 18% a day earlier and 20% on Wednesday.
In 24 hours, 769 people died, a daily record, taking the total to 4,858.
Deaths among vulnerable people seem to be mounting, with residents at elderly nursing homes particularly affected.
Spain, Europe’s second-worst-hit country after Italy, has extended the state of emergency until at least 12 April, with stringent restrictions on people’s movement in place and most shops and businesses closed.
The latest figures raised hopes that the measures were beginning to take effect, with health emergency chief Fernando Simón saying they showed a “clear stabilisation”. He added: “It seems that we’re approaching the long-awaited peak”.
The army has been deployed to deep clean hospitals and other facilities as well as some 900 nursing homes, where at least 1,517 deaths have reportedly been recorded.
Meanwhile, the health ministry said some 9,000 rapid diagnostic tests imported from China through a Spanish company had proved defective. It said the kits had European approval and their use had been suspended.