SPAIN is Europe’s “new coronavirus hotspot” with the killer bug again sweeping through the country with 53,000 cases in just one week, warns a report.
It’s feared that Spain is seeing a second wave as the virus is spreading quicker than in the US and about eight times faster than in Italy and the UK.
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"Of course we are worried because we have to stabilise and bring down the infection chain,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told Catalonia’s regional TV channel 324 late on Monday.
Since bringing the first wave largely under control through a strict lockdown that ended in June, Spain has been hit by a sharp resurgence of infections as measures were relaxed and mass testing began.
But, the New York Times warns: "If Italy was the harbinger of the first wave of Europe’s coronavirus pandemic in February, Spain is the portent of its second."
Spain has recorded the most new infections on the continent, clocking up more more than 53,000 cases last week.
The paper points out that with 114 new infections per 100,000 people, the virus is spreading faster in Spain than in America.
More than half of the most recent victims are being reported from Madrid, says Forbes.
However there is glimmer of hope in both Catalonia and Aragon – two regions in northern Spain that suffered huge spikes of new cases in July – as they have begun to stabilise.
El Pais in Spain reported that Covid-19 fatalities have doubled in less than a fortnight, going from 0.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants to 0.8.
However, doctors and health officials aren't panicking about the second wave, as the death rate has tumbled from a 12 per cent peak in May to 6.6 per cent now.
According to Statista's data, Spain is suffering 624 Covid-related fatalities for every one million people – far more than America's 563 deaths per million inhabitants.
The NYT says that Malaga is the city with the fastest-rising infection rate in southern Spain, despite the country having one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns.
It's pinned the blame on the reopening of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, coupled with people gathering in close proximity in larger groups.
“Perhaps Spain is the canary in the coal mine,” said Prof. Antoni Trilla, an epidemiologist at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, a research group.
He added: “Many countries may follow us, but hopefully not at the same speed or with the same number of cases that we are facing.”
More than half of the new cases are reported as asymptomatic, where people do not notice any ill health despite being infected.
But these asymptomatic cases are bumping up Spain's infection tally because of a fourfold rise in testing, adds the NYT.
It reported that Malaga’s hospital beds have been filling up as a result of the spike.
Yet residents continue filling bars, and it's the same story in bars, with tables 'tightly packed together' despite officials pushing for social distancing.
Few drinkers are seen wearing protective face masks on beaches and pontoons.
Shop assistant Victor Bermudez, 23, told the NYT: "I don’t think Covid is real.
"It’s not as serious as they say – it’s all a plan to kill the poor and boost the rich.”
Health Minister Salvador Illa said the situation is not comparable to the pandemic’s first peak in March and April.
Hospitals now have greater capacity, and he said it was unlikely Spain would close schools again or impose a new state of emergency to try to tackle the virus.
The first coronavirus wave was largely brought under control through a strict lockdown that ended in June.
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