The official death toll in Spain from the novel coronavirus surpassed the 40,000 mark on Wednesday, with the Health Ministry confirming 349 more fatalities.

With a population of close to 47 million, the country is on track to losing one out of every 1,000 residents to the virus within the course of the year.

Close to 173,000 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 in Spain since the pandemic began, many of whom are suffering from long-term symptoms of the disease, while over 1.4 million infections have been detected.

The Health Ministry reported 19,096 new infections on Wednesday — up nearly 2,000 compared to Tuesday but down by 5,000 compared to last week. This continues the recent slight decline observed in the country.

Overall, some Spanish regions like Catalonia and Madrid are managing to bring down new contagions, whereas others, like Andalusia and Valencia, have seen cases increase compared to last week.

Hospitals in hard-hit areas are having to deal with a higher number of patients than during the first wave. Although measures vary by locality, regional governments no longer have the legal powers to decree a full lockdown as they did in Spring.

Active hospitalizations around the country jumped on Wednesday. Several regions now have more than 45% of all available intensive care units — even extra temporary ones — filled by COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, the Spanish government announced that it would reduce the sales tax on face masks from 21% to 4%.

Authorities also confirmed that beginning on Nov. 23, all arrivals to Spain from “high risk” areas would have to provide documentation to prove that they tested negative for the coronavirus in a PCR test within 72 hours prior to arrival.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.