Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Spain battles over 1,000 active COVID-19 outbreaks

More than 16,200 new cases detected this weekend, Basque Country declares health emergency

Alyssa McMurtry   | 17.08.2020
Spain battles over 1,000 active COVID-19 outbreaks

OVIEDO, Spain 

Spanish health authorities continue to lose ground to COVID-19, with the Health Ministry reporting 16,269 new infections and more than 1,000 active outbreaks on Monday.

The number of new infections spans three days, from Friday to Monday, as the Spanish government no longer publishes COVID-19 data on the weekends.

In the last two weeks, nearly 60,000 new cases have been confirmed -- almost one-sixth of all COVID-19 infections detected in Spain since the beginning of the pandemic, specifically 359,082.

In the last week, over 1,000 people have been hospitalized for the infectious disease and 54 have died, according to the Health Ministry.

The worst-affected region remains Aragon, but all parts of Spain have seen a significant uptick in cases this month.

On Monday, the Basque Country, which has become the second worst-hit area in terms of recent per-capita infections, declared a health emergency.

“We are looking at a possible tsunami of infections,” said Nekane Murga, the regional health minister, over the weekend.

Declaring a health emergency centralizes power to the regional Basque government and gives it more legal powers to confine certain areas or limit basic rights.

Meanwhile, in Madrid, another one of the worst-affected areas, local authorities said they would investigate an anti-mask protest and “sanction” people who broke the law on mandatory mask use “with maximum harshness."

As many as 3,000 people took to the streets in the Spanish capital on Sunday night, most without masks or social distance, calling COVID-19 a hoax.

On Monday, the region’s COVID-19 chief Antonio Zapatero told media that within the next couple of days Madrid would forbid smoking in public spaces and close down nightlife.

On Monday, similar restrictions on smoking and nightlife took effect in other regions including Andalusia, Galicia, and Castile and Leon.

Last Friday, all regional leaders unanimously agreed to adopt more measures to try to stop the virus from spreading further before schools are set to start in September.

Other measures that are set to come into effect across the country within the next few days include more distancing at restaurants and limited visits to nursing homes.

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