Spain becomes first European country to cross 1 million COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus infections in Spain hit a new peak of more than 16,000 last week

Since then, the coronavirus has conquered the whole country and restrictions are increasing while a second wave is breaking out.

The country recorded 16,973 confirmed cases of Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, the health ministry announced Wednesday, taking the total to 1,005,295 since its first case was diagnosed on January 31 on the remote island of La Gomera, in the Canary Islands.

Desperate to avoid a repeat of the first wave, when the virus ravaged Spain's elderly population and brought the health service to its knees, several regions have already taken steps, including telling restaurants to shut down earlier than usual.

With a two-week partial lockdown of Madrid and surrounding cities coming to an end on Saturday and the contagion rates growing across much of Spain, more needs to be done, Mr Illa said, calling earlier on Thursday for "drastic" measures. The US still has the highest number of confirmed virus cases in the world, with more than 8.8. million. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said; "We are now in Level 5 because the disease is at very serious levels in our country and posing a significant risk to public health".

While daily deaths have been hovering around 100 - a far cry from the peak of almost 900 registered in late March - hospital admissions have jumped 20 per cent in two weeks, triggering warnings that some non-urgent surgeries may need to be postponed.

Meanwhile, Spain's centre-right opposition rejected a far-right proposal for a vote of no-confidence in the Socialist Government on Thursday, a move which Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez seized on to propose a political deal over judicial reform.

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In Spain, 34,366 have died from the virus, according to officials. In many nations, the figures now dwarf what was seen in April and March.

"The pandemic has been used as a political weapon to fight and argue with your adversaries instead of trying to find a middle ground and the best solution for everyone", health sciences expert Salvador Macip of Catalonia's Open University told AFP.

Like elsewhere in Europe, the resurgence has prompted authorities to impose restrictions on travel and social gatherings. Neighbouring 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 tomorrow.

Its record for cases in March was 7,578.

Authorities are scrambling to implement tougher measures to curb the rise in infections without having to resort to another total lockdown which contained the virus' spread in the first wave but devastated the economy.

The Valencia region was also set to request curfew measures, El Pais newspaper reported, but a health ministry source told Reuters it was not yet clear if enough regions would take that stance for a decision to be made on Thursday.

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