Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said today he will seek parliament's approval to extend Spain's state of emergency one final time, keeping the coronavirus lockdown in place until 21 June.

The current emergency is set to expire on 7 June, and the Socialist premier told a press conference that one last two-week extension was required, while welcoming that his hard-hit nation is "on the verge of arriving safely" out of confinement.

He said Spain needed 15 more days of lockdown "to finish with the pandemic once and for all ... we have almost set out what we set out to do".

The sixth extension since March will need to be ratified on Wednesday by the 350-seat parliament, where Mr Sanchez's coalition is in a minority. 

But he can count on a Catalan independence party to abstain, as well as the support of Basque nationalists, under deals which he sealed yesterday.

In mid-May, Mr Sanchez tried to extend the state of emergency for a full month, but was forced to reduce the request to two weeks to secure the support of the centre-right Ciudadanos party.

Spain has been one of the most affected countries by the pandemic, but as its numbers of new cases and deaths have slowed, it has gradually lifted the lockdown.

The death toll from Covid-19 in Spain rose by two today, to 27,125 with 239.228 confirmed cases.

The lockdown measures are expected to be fully lifted in late June or early July, depending on the region.

Latin America braced for tough few weeks

Brazil registered another record surge in daily infections as divisions deepened on how to deal with the pandemic.

Latin American countries are bracing for difficult weeks ahead as the disease spreads rapidly across the region, even as much of the world exits lockdowns that have wrecked economies and stripped millions of their jobs. 

In Brazil - the epicentre of South America's outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases, lagging only behind the United States - disagreement among leaders over lockdown measures has hampered efforts to slow the virus as the number of fatalities in the country nears 30,000.


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 A nurse performs a coronavirus test on a resident of Belavista do Jaraqui, near Manaus, Brazil

President Jair Bolsonaro, who fears the economic fallout from stay-at-home measures will be worse than the virus, has berated governors and mayors for imposing what he calls "the tyranny of total quarantine".

As the global death toll from the pandemic surpassed 368,000, US President Donald Trump's decision to permanently cut funding to the World Health Organization has been broadly criticised.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide is more than six million, according to an AFP tally.

"Now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions," the European Union said in a statement, adding: "Actions that weaken international results must be avoided."

Pressure to lift lockdowns

As the virus progresses at different speeds around the globe, there has been pressure in many countries to lift crippling lockdowns, despite experts' warnings of a possible second wave of infections.

In England, which is set to begin lifting its lockdown tomorrow, senior advisors to the government warned that it was moving too quickly. 

"Covid-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England," tweeted Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. 

India said yesterday it would begin relaxing the world's biggest lockdown in stages from early June, even as it marked another record daily rise in infections.

Iran meanwhile announced that collective prayers would resume in mosques, despite infections ticking back upwards in the Middle East's hardest-hit country.

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound - the third-holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia - reopened to worshippers today. 

With infection numbers falling in many of Europe's most affected countries, the push to restart economies was gaining steam.

Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened yesterday, while in Paris, parks and the famed Galeries Lafayette department store flung open their doors.

In Austria, hotels and cinemas were allowed to take in customers, provided they wear masks.

"It is very important that things return to normal," film buff Rotraud Turanitz said at Vienna's historic Admiral Kino cinema on trendy Burggasse.

Across the Atlantic, the US capital Washington resumed outdoor dining, while on the West Coast, restaurants and hair salons in Los Angeles reopened.

New York City, the worst-hit American city with about 21,500 coronavirus deaths, is on track to begin reopening the week of 8 June. 

The overall US death toll has topped 103,000 out of more than 1.7 million cases of the virus. 

Sport is gearing up again

Global sport has also started to rev back into action, with Austria announcing it will host Formula One's delayed season-opener on 5 July, and the NBA eyeing a 31 July return.

The UK approved the return of domestic competitive sport on 1 June 1 - with no fans present - while South Africa has given a provisional green light for training to resume.