Spain reported its highest jump in daily novel coronavirus infections in weeks Wednesday, with the Health Ministry confirming another 11,078 cases.
This is the fourth consecutive day that cases have increased and is the highest one-day spike since Nov. 26.
Experts say the country is paying the price for relaxing measures in recent weeks. A four-day weekend last week also threatens to keep cases surging well into the holiday season.
Reacting to the new surge in case numbers, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned that there could be a last-minute change of plans on the precautions to be taken during the holidays.
“If we have to make the plan stricter, don’t have any doubts that the central government will ask regional governments to tighten measures,” he said in a tense parliamentary session.
At the moment, the Health Ministry recommends allowing people to travel to visit friends and family throughout the season, while relaxing the curfew and allowing up to 10 people to gather on festive days.
Yet, regional governments have the final say on what its residents will be allowed to do.
The regional Galicia government already announced that gatherings would be limited to six people from two households.
In Catalonia, officials also said that they would backtrack on their reopening plans and are studying how best to nip the third wave in the bud. According to one new measure, students will not return to school from the Christmas holidays until Jan. 11.
While hospitalizations did drop on Wednesday, 9% of all hospital beds and 20% of all available intensive care units are still being used by COVID-19 patients, meaning a third wave could quickly become overwhelming.
Deaths on Wednesday also dropped to 195 — less than half the figure from Tuesday and the lowest daily figure since late October.
Spain’s official COVID-19 death toll now sits at 48,596.
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