With another 530 people reported dead from the novel coronavirus on Friday, Spain concluded its deadliest week since April.
Though infections and hospitalizations have been steadily dropping since Monday, the number of lives lost has only increased.
Over the last week, the Health Ministry reported 3,361 COVID-19-related deaths — around 3.7 times more than during the week leading up to Christmas.
Cases have fallen sharply, with the Health Ministry reporting just over 14,500 new infections Friday — around half the cases reported one week ago.
Yet, Spain’s infection rate remains extremely high — nearly 500 people per 100,000 have tested positive for the virus in the last two weeks. When Spain declared a state of emergency in October as the second wave began to crest, the 14-day infection rate was 361.
Hospitalizations also remain high, with 40% of intensive care units still being used by COVID-19 patients.
Noting the dip in contagion, regions of Spain like Castile La Mancha, Extremadura and parts of Andalusia moved to relax measures Friday.
The government of the capital Madrid, expected to move curfew from 10 to 11 p.m., announced Friday that measures would remain due to the increasing presence of more new variants.
Madrid officials confirmed two more cases of concerning variants from Brazil, adding to the one identified last week.
The government of Madrid, home to the country’s most transited airport, is insisting that Spain’s central government enforce quarantines on people arriving from Brazil or South Africa.
At the moment, people entering Spain only have to present a negative coronavirus test taken up to three days before arrival, although flights have been restricted with those two countries.
“If athletes going to Australia have to quarantine there, why can’t we do it in Madrid? Should we just keep waiting until we have more cases that make our vaccination program more complicated,” Antonio Zapatero, Madrid’s Vice Secretary of Health, said in a press conference.
Spain has detected at least 550 cases of the UK strain, which has reportedly been responsible for up to 40% of infections in some parts of the country. Two cases of the South African variant have also been confirmed.
More than 1 million people in Spain have now received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, with the country administering 2.9 million doses it total so far.