More than 500,000 coronavirus cases have been recorded in Spain since the beginning of the pandemic in March, according to data reported by the regions on Saturday. Catalonia registered 1,481 new infections and eight fatalities in 24 hours, while Andalusia reported 1,030 cases, Basque Country 745, Valencia 630, Castilla y León 560, Murcia 390, the Canary Islands 365, Galicia 293, Aragón 248, Extremadura 223, Cantabria 213, Navarre 191 and Asturias 65. In La Rioja, authorities detected a new coronavirus outbreak in a senior residence, as well as seven others linked to social gatherings, bringing the total number of active cases in the region to 997 on Saturday, a daily rise of 18.
The Spanish Health Ministry does not publish figures on the Covid-19 crisis on weekends, nor does the Madrid region, which currently has the highest number of new cases. But if the figures reported on Saturday are added to the total number of cases recorded by the Health Ministry on Friday (498,989), the new total is now at 505,441.
In response to the rise in cases, mandatory and recommended confinement measures have been introduced in some areas in Spain
In a bid to curb contagion, regional governments have continued to tighten restrictions on social gatherings and nighttime venues. In Valencia, premier Ximo Puig announced on Saturday that the measures limiting private gatherings to 10 people and reducing the opening hours of bars and restaurants would be extended for another 21 days. Casinos and game rooms will also have to close by 1am and new patrons will not be allowed to enter after midnight. Last week, Madrid health authorities announced a raft of measures aimed at reducing the rising number of coronavirus infections in the region, which has once again become the epicenter of the ongoing health crisis in Spain. These restrictions include a 10-person limit on social meetings and reducing capacity at bar counters to 50%.
In response to the rise in cases, mandatory and recommended confinement measures have been introduced in some areas in Spain. In Llera, a municipality in Badajoz province, local authorities have called on the town’s 800 residents to remain at home. The mayor of Llera, Ana Torres, asked the residents to leave their homes “as little as possible” and not to have contact with “anyone” after the town recorded 19 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 51. From this week on and up until at least September 15, Llera residents will remain in social isolation, with measures similar to Phase 2 of the national deescalation plan, such as reduced capacity at bars and restaurants. Local authorities of Vall del Zalabí in Granada have also asked residents to stay at home in an effort to curb the rising number of cases there.
Spanish authorities are particularly concerned about coronavirus transmission at senior homes, which have led to at least 23 deaths
Spanish authorities are particularly concerned about coronavirus transmission at homes for seniors, who are one of the groups most vulnerable to the virus and account for 10% of all current positive cases in Spain. On Saturday, the Andalusian regional government reported that a coronavirus outbreak in the El Zapillo seniors home in Almería had led to nine deaths and 116 cases, 76 of which are among residents at the center. Another outbreak at a senior residence El Manantial de Terque, also in Almería, has led to 39 infections (33 residents and six workers). In Galicia, 14 people have died from a coronavirus outbreak at the O Incio center in Lugo.
The total number of coronavirus cases has exceeded half a million as schools across Spain prepare to reopen after being closed since mid-March due to the health crisis. Some regions, however, have announced that the return to schools will be delayed until the safety of students and teachers is guaranteed. Regional authorities in Asturias, the Canary Islands and Murcia will not reopen schools until September 21. In Santoña, in Cantabria, a student-parents’ association backed on Saturday a petition from the school boards of the municipality’s two centers to push back the start of the new school year while the area remains in confinement.
Police arrest 13 at anti-maskers march in Madrid
Around 500 people attended the protest on Saturday afternoon, carrying signs against face masks, coronavirus vaccines and lockdown measures. The protesters marched through Callao, Mayor and Ópera public squares but, according to the spokesperson, were stopped by police before they could reach their final destination at Madrid’s famous Puerta del Sol landmark.
The organizers of the march did not notify the government delegation of the demonstration, which used social media to call for attendees. In addition to the 13 people arrested, police identified another 110 participants who were not wearing a face mask. According to the spokesperson of the government delegation, these participants may not be fined even though their details were taken. The spokesperson added that the 13 who were arrested were the most disobedient to police.
The government’s delegate in Madrid, José Manuel Franco, thanked police for their efforts on Saturday. “Once again, they have shown exemplary behavior in maintaining order and protecting public safety in the center of Madrid,” he told EL PAÍS.
Several protests have been held in Madrid against the government’s coronavirus safety measures. Three weeks ago, more than 30 people were arrested at a large protest in Colón square in Madrid. Police also arrested one of the organizers of the march for inciting hate and violence against officers and health workers on social media, and for sharing fake data on the situation of the pandemic by posing as a top official in the Health Ministry.
English version by Melissa Kitson.