By Alyssa McMurtry
OVIEDO, Spain (AA) – Spain’s Health Ministry registered a record spike in new coronavirus infections on Wednesday with 38,869 new cases.
Spain’s previous one-day record was set on Oct. 30 with 25,595 infections.
Wednesday’s huge surge, however, contains a backlog of around 5,000 cases that had not been reported from Murcia in recent days. Even so, the pandemic is accelerating beyond what occurred during the second wave.
On Wednesday, the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Spain also jumped significantly.
According to the Health Ministry, 28% of all Spain’s available intensive care units are now occupied by patients fighting the infectious disease. That figure has increased by five percentage points over the last week.
Deaths, on the other hand, dropped by half compared to Tuesday, with just under 200 more lives lost.
On Wednesday, the regions of Extremadura, Galicia, Murcia, and Andalusia registered more daily infections than ever before.
Although Spain’s chief epidemiologist Fernando Simon Monday predicted that the British variant of the virus “will have a marginal impact” in Spain, Andalusian officials said on Wednesday that 70% of new infections over the last eight days in the region are being caused by the new variant.
Andalusia borders the British territory of Gibraltar, where infections also soared last week.
Last week, the Andalusian government ordered a perimetral confinement and tighter measures around the border area in fears of importing more cases of the British strain.
The city of La Linea de la Concepcion, which is directly on the border, now has one of the highest infection rates in Spain.
Yet, the surge in infections can also be attributed to a general relaxation of measures from Dec. 23 to Jan. 6 to accommodate Spain's long holiday season.
Regional governments across Spain continue announcing tighter measures, ranging from earlier curfews to closing off municipalities and shutting down bars and restaurants.
Likewise, governments are pleading with people to stay home.
Under Spain’s current state of emergency legislation, stay-at-home orders are not permitted. Yet several leading experts suggest stricter measures may be the only way to prevent hospital collapse and save lives.
Just over 580,000 people in Spain have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Health Ministry.