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Spain smashes daily record for coronavirus infections

Spain smashes daily record for coronavirus infections
Central government rules out major restrictions as country heads into holidays

By Alyssa McMurtry

OVIEDO, Spain (AA) - Spain reported 60,041 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, by far the highest number of cases in the country since the pandemic began.

The last record was set on Tuesday with 49,000 daily infections, surpassing the previous all-time high recorded last January.

Omicron and an uptick in social activity around the holiday season are likely behind the skyrocketing number of cases.

The latest Health Ministry data suggests omicron is quickly becoming the dominant strain.

Despite record contagion, Spain’s central government is relying on vaccines and masks, as opposed to limiting social lives, to help the country weather the COVID storm.

“We are not in March of last year because the variant is different and because we’ve come a long way in our vaccine drive,” said Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in a press conference on Wednesday night.

In Spain, 90% of the population older than 12 has been fully immunized, while 74% of people older than 60 have received a booster shot. This has managed to keep hospitalizations around one-third lower than during the peak in infections last January.

The Health Ministry reported 50 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday.

“I’m fully aware of the anxiety around this new wave as well as the fatigue around new measures ... we need to trust our strategy based on vaccines and masks,” Sanchez said.

- New restriction

After meeting with regional leaders, the prime minister announced just one new restriction — that it will be mandatory to wear masks outdoors from Friday. There will be exceptions for rural areas, people doing sports, or those who are walking alone, he said.

The government is also offering more military help for healthcare and vaccinations as well as allowing rapid tests previously reserved for hospitals to be commercialized.

Catalonia is set to enforce a curfew, but most other regional governments are only going as far as implementing vaccine or negative test passports to curb the extraordinary number of contagions.

While hospitals are not under the same amount of pressure as they were in previous waves, primary care doctors are again overwhelmed.

They manage much of the testing, contact tracing, caring for mild COVID-19 patients and coordinate work leaves for those who test positive.

Many people cannot reach their health clinics by telephone and are forced to line up for hours to make appointments.

Rapid tests are also sold out in pharmacies around the country due to both the surge in infections and the desire to take precautionary tests before holiday gatherings.

source: News Feed
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