Spain’s coronavirus figures from Tuesday indicate that coronavirus contagion continues accelerate, with the Health Ministry reporting more than 14,000 new infections.
This is the highest daily spike since Nov. 20, and it comes as much of Spain gears up to relax pandemic restrictions for New Year’s Eve celebrations.
“The one week separation between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is the absolute worst because we could catch the virus at one celebration, will be incubating it, so we just become contagious during the next,” Spanish virologist Margarita de Val told Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 on Tuesday.
On Jan. 6, much of Spain also celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany with gifts and family gatherings.
Although the Spanish Royal Academy voted “confinement” as the word of the year in Spain on Tuesday, the reality on the streets is bustling.
Both for Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Eve, most parts of Spain decided to facilitate celebrations by pushing back nightly curfews or increasing the number of people allowed to gather together. Travel to visit friends and family has also been permitted over the holiday season.
The Balearic Islands, which currently has the highest contagion rate in Spain, is an exception and has kept the nightly curfew at 10 p.m. throughout the festivities.
The situation on the islands has become so critical that doctors in Mallorca are no longer being allowed to take holidays or leaves of absence.
Elsewhere, other experts are exasperated by the Catalan government’s decision not to tighten restrictions as cases surge and nearly one-third of all intensive care units are already occupied by COVID-19 patients.
“It’s not enough to recommend people to stay home during New Year’s Eve,” said infectious disease doctor Oriol Mitja on Twitter. “The third wave looks like it will be just as big as the second.”
Across Spain, another 320 people were reported dead of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the official death toll to 50,442.