OVIEDO, Spain 

Spain is re-emerging as a European hotspot for COVID-19 with the Spanish Health Ministry reporting on Wednesday 9,011 new infections within the last week – the highest figure in months.

Over the last two weeks, Spain has confirmed 14,520 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the total number of cases to 267,551.

That is around the same as the case-count in the last 14 days in Germany (5,458), Italy (2,796), Belgium (1,984) and Portugal (4,482) combined, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data.

Despite having a population of only 47 million, Spain has also reported significantly more new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks than the larger countries like the UK (9,468) or France (8,528).

Compared to last Wednesday, the number of weekly infections has more than doubled in Spain from 4,501. According to WHO data, no other major EU country is currently experiencing such a fast growth rate.

Spain has been operating in the so-called new normal for just over one month and trying to recover its economically critical summer tourism season.

Masks are mandatory in most public spaces but places like bars, nightclubs and private parties as well as situations of poverty and inadequate housing are to blame for many of the new outbreaks.

On Wednesday, Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa confirmed that there are 224 active outbreaks, 23 more than on Monday.

Some restrictions have been put in place in the worst-affected areas of Catalonia and Aragon, but a return to a strict lockdown has not been discussed.

On Wednesday, a neighborhood in Pamplona also amped up hygiene and social distancing measures and called for mass testing after an outbreak among young people.

In a Parliamentary Session on Wednesday, Cuca Gamarra, a member of Parliament with the opposition Popular Party accused the government of “turning its back on the pandemic” and “making the same mistakes” as in the spring.

Illa said that most of the outbreaks are under control and local health authorities are acting with “forcefulness” to stop the virus’ spread.

“We all knew that any country that had the pandemic under control would experience new outbreaks. We shouldn’t be afraid of the virus but we can’t lose our respect for it,” he said in Parliament.

After a devastating first wave this spring, Spain remains one of the worst-affected countries in terms of per-capita mortality, with a recorded 28,426 deaths from the disease.

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