OVIEDO, Spain

Spain reported another 229 COVID-19 deaths on Friday and 1,095 more infections, as regions across the country prepare to further relax lockdown measures next week.

In total, Spanish Health Ministry has counted nearly 223,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 26,299 deaths. More than 121,700 people have been hospitalized and 131,148 have recovered from the disease.

Data published on Thursday confirms nearly 46,000 health care workers in Spain contracted the virus — likely the highest number in the world.

At least 44 doctors have lost their lives to COVID-19 in Spain so far, according to the Medical College of Madrid.

Today, regions across Spain are expecting to hear back from the central government about their ability to further ease lockdown measures on Monday.

All parts of Spain, with the exception of parts of Catalonia and Castile and Leon, have requested to advance to the next phase of the de-escalation, which will allow the opening of some shops, restaurants and cafe terraces as well as gatherings of up to 10 people.

Spain’s chief epidemiologist Fernando Simon said in a press conference on Thursday the criteria to move to the next phase are based on factors related to health, not economics.

The region of Madrid has been one of Spain’s hardest hit, but it has also requested to further relax lockdown measures next week. Dr. Yolanda Fuentes, Public Health Director of the Region of Madrid, suddenly resigned on Thursday.

Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the president of Spain’s capital region, told local media on Friday Fuentes’ resignation was due to friction around Madrid’s request to ease measures.

“Madrid, with hardly any help, has been at the center of the health crisis and now it must take steps forward for employment because the situation could still get much worse,” Ayuso wrote on Twitter on Friday, adding: “No one could imagine how difficult it is to balance both crises.”

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