The Spanish government ruled out full lockdowns in hard-hit regions on Monday, as the Health Ministry reported a record-breaking 55,019 new coronavirus infections over the weekend.
The number of new cases, which does not include data from Catalonia on Sunday, is the highest three-day spike so far, but only slightly higher than last weekend’s increase of 52,000.
The number of active hospitalizations jumped by more than 1,000 to 19,170, with more than 15% of all available hospital beds in Spain now filled by COVID-19 patients.
Even more worrying is that 28% of all the available intensive care units in the country – including those that can be created in makeshift hospitals – are also being used to treat the infectious disease.
Another 379 people died since Friday, 100 more than during the previous weekend.
On Monday, the government of the region of Asturias, where some hospitals are overflowing with more patients now than during the first wave, announced stricter measures.
The regional government announced that the curfew would move from midnight to 10 p.m. and that all non-essential activities will close as of Wednesday.
The region’s leader Adrian Barbon also asked the central government to give him the powers to enforce full stay-at-home orders for at least 15 days.
Spain’s state of emergency does not include legal backing for stay-at-home orders, and Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa told the media on Monday that the government is not working on establishing a legal basis for strict confinements.
“We believe that with the measures we have in place, we can control the pandemic,” said Illa.
On Sunday, the president of the region of Melilla, where 75% of ICUs are being used by COVID-19 patients, also made a formal request for a stricter lockdown.
Spain decreed a state of emergency on Oct. 25 – just over a week ago. It allows governments to enforce curfews as early as 10 p.m., close businesses, and close borders around cities and regions.
Illa said the regional governments need to give the new measures time to see if they are working.
Several other European countries, including France, Ireland, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, and the Czech Republic, have announced stricter measures than Madrid, which left control to deal with the pandemic to the regional governments.
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