Spain registers record number of coronavirus cases and blames British strain

Spain registered a record daily number of coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with nearly 39,000 new infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.

A total of 38,869 new cases were recorded since Tuesday and 195 deaths.

The data showed Spain was in a situation of “very high risk, extreme risk”, said Carolina Darias, minister for territorial policy and civil service.

The numbers bring the total number of infections in Spain to 2.18 million and the number of fatalities to 52,878 since the start of the pandemic.

“The pressure is continuing to rise in hospitals,” said Health Minister Salvador Illa, but noted that the number of people being tested for the virus was also increasing.

The spiralling contagion has been broadly blamed on family gatherings held over Christmas but Madrid’s health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero said he suspected the highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in Britain late last year was becoming a factor.

“Clearly it has played a role in the increase in infection,” he told Onda Cero Radio, saying hundreds of suspected cases of the new variant were under investigation in his region.

Many parts of Spain have introduced new restrictive measures in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19, including closing bars and restaurants.

Spain on Tuesday extended for another two weeks a ban on people entering from the UK by air or sea because of concerns over the new strain of the coronavirus detected there.

The entry restriction, which does not apply to Spanish nationals and those with legal residency in Spain, will remain in effect until February 2nd, the Spanish government said in a statement.

Like most European nations, Spain imposed the entry restrictions on December 22nd following the discovery in Britain of a new strain of the coronavirus thought to be more contagious.

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