Spain's daily coronavirus death toll increased to 743 after falling for four straight days, raising the total to 13,798, the health ministry said.

However, it emphasised that the rise was due to weekend deaths being tallied and that the overall "downward trend" is continuing.

The new figure represents a 5.7% increase over the 637 deaths recorded yesterday, the lowest number of fatalities since 24 March in the world's second hardest-hit country after Italy in terms of deaths.

The number of new infections also grew at a faster pace, rising 4.1% to 140,510, the health ministry said.

The number of new cases had risen by 3.3% yesterday.


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The "slight" rise was due largely to the fact that many deaths and new infections which occur over the weekend are only now being tallied, said Maria Jose Sierra of the health ministry's emergencies coordination unit.

"In reality the downward trend is what we continue to observe in the reports we have received in recent days," she told a daily news conference to discuss the figures.

The number of people in hospital intensive care units continues to fall, she added.

Spain had seen the number of new infections and death drop each day since it recorded a record 950 fatalities last Thursday.

But the percentage increase in the number of new deaths is far lower than the 32.63% leap recorded as recently as 21 March.

Mari Angels Rodriguez, a nurse at the Hospital Josep Trueta hospital in Girona in northeastern Spain, said the volume of work in the intensive care unit had fallen "a lot".

Sweden has reported another 114 deaths from the new coronavirus, bringing the total to 591 in a country that has adopted a softer approach to containing the spread of the disease.

Sweden's Public Health Agency said it had recorded a total of 7,693 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country of around 10 million people, adding that some of the newly recorded deaths were due to revised figures from previous days.

Norway will lift some of the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the country's prime minister said.

Erna Solberg

"Together we have taken control of the virus, therefore we can open up society little by little," Erna Solberg told a news conference.

Yesterday, her health minister said the epidemic was "under control" in Norway, pointing to the low rate of transmission of the disease.

The Nordic country was among the first in Europe to shutdown a wide range of private and public institutions to halt the spread of Covid-19, sending the economy into a tailspin and triggering hundreds of thousands of layoffs.

Current restrictions, which are in place until 13 April,included the closures of nurseries and schools, refusing entry to foreigners who do not live and work in Norway and forbidding people to go to their mountain cabins.

Kindergartens will reopen between 20 and 27 April; schools from the first grade to the fourth grade will reopen from 27 April; and Norwegians can go to their chalets from 20 April.

At the same time, working from home must continue and Norwegians must get used against measures against contamination"for a long time", Ms Solberg said.

Czech lawmakers gave the green light to extend the state of emergency until 30 April, in order to maintain the steps taken against the spread of coronavirus. 

The government had asked for an extension until 11 May but failed as 90 of 101 lawmakers present wanted a shorter term.

The state of emergency allows the government to take restrictive steps to combat coronavirus or buy medical material without declaring a tender.