Spain reported nearly 20,000 new coronavirus infections and 401 more deaths between Friday and Monday, after a weekend marked by large crowds in some Spanish cities. 

Spanish Health Secretary Silvia Calzon called for “prudence and responsibility” after massive crowds filled the downtown streets of major cities, particularly Madrid, where thousands went out to shop for Black Friday sales and to see the newly lit Christmas lights.

“We could easily be tempted into thinking that since the number of infections is dropping we can relax, but we cannot,” she told a press conference on Monday.

The epidemiological situation in Spain continues to improve, but experts fear that reopenings combined with the holiday season could trigger a third wave before vaccines become available to the most vulnerable populations.

New infections were down around 5,000 this weekend compared to the previous weekend, and active hospitalizations continue to drop.

Spanish hospitals are now treating around 14,500 COVID-19 patients, compared to more than 21,000 earlier this month. Still, nearly 12% of all the country’s hospital beds and 27% of all available intensive care units are being used to treat infected patients.

November has been by far the deadliest month in Spain since April. The Health Ministry reported around 7,900 more lives lost this month – nearly double that of October.

On Monday, the official death toll surpassed the 45,000 mark and the total number of confirmed infections neared 1,650,000.

With the falling number of cases, several areas have already lifted second wave measures.

On Monday, Granada, one of the hardest-hit cities during the second wave, reopened bars and restaurants after more than three weeks of closed doors. They still must close by 6 p.m.

Madrid also eased restrictions in 13 neighborhoods, meaning 380,000 more people are now able to travel freely throughout Spain’s capital city and region.

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