Spain became the first Western European country to pass the grim milestone of 1 million confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday, as more of the country’s regions announced new measures to curb the contagion.
Spain’s Health Ministry reported 16,973 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday — the highest daily surge since the beginning of the pandemic — raising the total number of infections to 1,005,295.
The country registered 156 additional fatalities due to the disease, bringing the death toll to 34,366.
Since Sept. 1, active hospitalizations have more than doubled and 5,214 people were confirmed to have died from the disease.
Spain is the only European country besides Russia to have broken the mark of 1 million confirmed cases, although France is also on the verge of crossing the barrier.
France’s population is around 20 million larger than Spain’s, whereas Russia is home to three times more people.
Spain is currently seeing the highest level of hospitalizations since the first wave ended, with nearly 13,700 active patients occupying 11.5% of all the country’s hospital beds and 21.5% of intensive care units.
To curb the contagion, which has been surging since the summer, Spain’s regions are beginning to take more severe measures.
On Wednesday, the government of La Rioja announced that no one will be allowed to leave or enter the region without justification from Friday. It will also close most businesses and activities by 9 p.m.
Meanwhile, the government of Aragon said that from Thursday, its three provincial capitals — Zaragoza, Huesca, and Teruel — will also prohibit all unnecessary movement.
Once these measures come into effect, around 7.6 million Spaniards will be confined to their specific cities or regions, although limitations in the capital Madrid will be lifted on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, Wednesday, national politicians were busy debating a no-confidence motion filed by the far-right party Vox.
The vote, which so far has only served to highlight Spain’s political polarization and the extremist views of Vox, will take place Thursday and is expected to fail.
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