Spain First in Western Europe to Have One Million Coronavirus Cases

A man wearing a face mask walks past a poster by artist TVBoy featuring Uncle Sam and reading "I want you to stay home" in Barcelona on March 14, 2020 after regional authorities ordered all shops in the region be shuttered from today through March 26, save for those selling …
JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Spain has become the first Western European country to hit one million coronavirus cases, while neighbouring France had 30,000 patients in one day, a record for the Gallic nation since the start of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities revealed on Wednesday that after 16,973 new infections in the past 24 hours — itself a daily record — Spain had reached 1,005,295 positive cases of COVID-19.

All but two Spanish territories, Madrid and the Canary Islands, have seen a rise in infections, with Navarre, a region in the north of the country, closed its borders last night. Hospital admissions have increased by 20 per cent on average in the past two weeks, with the highest regional increase being in Catalonia, which saw a 70 per cent spike in admissions.

El País reported that indicators suggest that the situation will only get worse in the coming days and weeks. The socialist government is said to be considering curfews in the worst-hit regions.

Madrid’s regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso, a member of the conservative People’s Party, expressed her concern that another lockdown could affect the economy, which in turn provides taxes that support vital public services like healthcare.

“What’s most important is that the economy doesn’t suffer any more,” she said.

On March 13th, Spain declared a state of emergency, and just two weeks later found itself with the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the world, second only to notorious virus hotspot Italy. Just a week later, Spain had recorded the highest number of cases across Europe.

Like the vast majority of countries across the continent, Spain went into strict lockdown from March until June, shutting businesses and ordering Spaniards remain under effective house arrest, allowed to leave only for food and medicine, and essential journeys. Early October saw some of those restrictions returning in Madrid, including having to have a ‘good’ reason for leaving their neighbourhoods and limitations on businesses.

France, meanwhile, is also projected to hit one million cases, after seeing a new all-time daily record of 30,000 new cases. The French government is considering extending its state of emergency until February 2021. Emmanuel Macron’s government announced that several more regions of the country see the 9 pm to 6 am curfew reimposed.

Twenty countries across Europe, including the United Kingdom, saw new daily records of infection on Wednesday.

As a result, several countries introduced or reintroduced stringent new measures, including enforced mask-wearing in public spaces, lockdowns, and curfews. Switzerland may also go into lockdown if it does not get its number of infections under control. The wealthy landlocked country went from being one of the least affected countries in Europe to the worst in a matter of weeks.

“The situation is worsening, and worsening fast,” Health Minister Alain Berset said on Wednesday.

Lombardy, the worst-hit region in Italy at the beginning of the pandemic, has seen record cases and will be going under a curfew.

Belgium’s health minister remarked a few days ago that the country was facing a “tsunami” of cases, having the second-highest number in the world of instances per 100,000 people, while the media had dubbed its neighbour the Netherlands a virus hotspot.

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