MADRID (AP) — Spain has become the first country in western Europe to accumulate more than 1 million confirmed COVID-19 infections as the nation of 47 million struggles to contain a resurgence of the virus.
The health ministry said Wednesday that its accumulative case load since the start of the pandemic reached 1,005,295 after reporting 16,973 more cases in the past 24 hours.
The ministry attributes 34,366 deaths to COVID-19. Experts say the real numbers of infections and deaths are probably much higher because insufficient testing, asymptomatic cases and other issues impede authorities from capturing the true scale of the outbreak.
As the numbers rise, authorities in charge of health policy in Spain’s regions are tightening restrictions. They want to stem the surge that has been building in recent months while avoiding a second total lockdown of home confinements that stemmed the first wave of the virus but left the economy reeling.
The regional government of northern Aragón announced Wednesday they have closed the city limits of Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel. Neighboring Navarra, which leads Spain in infections per 100,000 over 14 days, is preparing to become the first Spanish region to close its borders on Thursday. La Rioja will also close its regional borders on Friday.
Spain’s health minister and regional heads of health will meet on Thursday to discuss their virus strategies and consider employing nightly curfews to target late-night partying as a source of contagion.
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