COVID-19 VACCINES

Spain becomes Europe’s first western nation to cross 500,000 COVID-19 cases

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Spain became the first country in Western Europe to record 500,000 cases of coronavirus on Monday, following a second surge of infections that coincided with reopening of schools. Data from the Health Ministry shows a total of 525,549 cases, up from 498,989 on Friday and 2,440 reported infections in the last 24 hours.

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Spain is reviewing the data retroactively, so it can check the new figures. Recent diseases have become more frequent in younger people who frequently have no symptoms due to their weakened immune systems, and the mortality rate remains well below the height of March-April where reported deaths have regularly surpassed 800 individuals.

Unlike then, hospitals still have enough beds to handle COVID-19 patients considering the unwelcome landmark. Following the first epidemic in spring that devastated the elderly population of Spain and overloaded the healthcare infrastructure, officials kept the disease under control with the aid of one of the hardest lockdowns on earth.

But as travel constraints were relaxed and widespread testing started in late June, infections soared from a few hundred a day to a new high of more than 10,000 about 10 days ago, outstripping other hard-hit nations like France, Britain, and Italy. Since the first pandemic occurred, the average death rate in Spain is about 6 percent lower than in Italy, Britain and France.

On Monday Spain announced eight new deaths taking the number to 29,516. Rafael Bengoa, the co-founder of the Center for Health and Strategy in Spain, said hospitals should be able to keep deaths in check this time, even as infections rise, but longer-term issues could overburden the healthcare system.

“Some people will be poisoned, and some of these people will have an acute and serious effect on their health that is likely to last a long time, though they won’t die,” he said. While discounting the need for a new national lockout, he said localized boundaries of city communities could become more useful in regulating transmission.

Few Spaniards are of the view that existing limitations are not enough. “We are not taking appropriate action. Look, people walk about without face masks, the government is opening schools and it is not fair to kids or adults, “said Lux Marin, 25, a resident of Madrid. Schools reopened on Monday in six regions like the Basque Country and some will start classes over the next 10 days.