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Spain’s COVID-19 death toll surges by 1,623

The total number of COVID-19 fatalities in Spain shot up on Wednesday by 1,623, according to the Health Ministry, bringing the country’s official death toll to 38,118.

The record daily jump in deaths is due to the Spanish Health Ministry changing its criteria for counting cases since the pandemic began. More than 1,300 of those newly confirmed deaths were from before May 11.

But that still leaves 297 deaths confirmed since Tuesday, which is Spain's highest daily jump in deaths since April.

Meanwhile, the number of infections continues to grow, with the Health Ministry registering more than 25,000 new coronavirus cases compared to Tuesday.

Over the last two weeks, Spanish authorities have detected close to 250,000 new infections – the highest number since the pandemic began although testing has also improved.

The record number of recent infections is translating into a constant expansion of COVID-19 patients in Spanish hospitals. Currently, 20,325 people are being treated for the disease in hospitals, using 16.4% of all hospital beds and 29.1% of the country’s available intensive care units.

On Wednesday, three Spanish regions announced tighter measures to fight the virus’s rapid expansion.

Officials in Murcia announced the closure of the entire hospitality sector for 14 days, while those in Galicia said bars and restaurants in 60 municipalities will be forced to shut their doors in an attempt to avoid a “full home lockdown” and “save Christmas”.

The northern region of Cantabria said that non-essential movement in and out of all of its municipalities will soon be prohibited, while bars and restaurants will only be allowed to continue serving on outdoor patios.

Other Spanish regions have been clamoring for the legal ability to enforce full stay-at-home orders to curb the contagion. But such restrictive measures are not permitted under Spain’s new state of emergency.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa asked the regions to wait and see how the new measures are working before pushing the government to allow them to take more drastic steps.

“We need between two and three weeks to be able to evaluate the new measures,” he said. 

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