OVIEDO, Spain 

Coronavirus infections continue to snowball in Spain, with the Health Ministry confirming more than 23,500 new cases over the weekend.

In the same three-day period between Friday and Monday, hospitalizations rose by more than 700, and 83 more COVID-19 deaths were confirmed nationally.

In the last 14 days, a staggering 96,654 viral infections have been detected, making Spain one of the global hotspots for the contagion.

Madrid remains the epicenter of the infectious disease in the country, registering a per capita rate of infection more than double that of the national average. According to the ministry, 16% of its hospital beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients.

As a result, Spain’s capital region has again begun to turn hotels into hospitals for patients with light symptoms who need to isolate.

Valencian health authorities announced on Monday that Beniganim, a town of nearly 6,000 people, will go into full lockdown after discovering that nearly one out of every 100 of its residents tested positive for the virus over the last week.

Meanwhile, more regions are pushing back the return to school. Following the lead of Asturias, the region with the fewest COVID-19 cases per capita, on Monday Murcia announced it would postpone the school year until mid-September to evaluate the situation before opening classroom doors.

Madrid, the Canary Islands and La Rioja also announced educational delays.

Yet Isabel Celaa, Spain’s education minister, insisted in a radio interview Monday that “Spain is ready to open its schools.”

“The children are going to be safe and parents have to know that the benefits of school outweigh whatever could happen,” she said.

The Education Ministry is pushing for entirely in-person education, though each region has the power to decide the details.

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