MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s cumulative tally of confirmed coronavirus infections rose by nearly 10,800 on Tuesday from the previous day to reach 682,267, health ministry data showed, as the region of Catalonia said it would further limit public gatherings.
That included 3,125 cases diagnosed in the last 24 hours, but these daily figures tend to end up much higher after retroactive updates of the infection tally, having exceeded 10,000 cases per day for most of last week.
With 21 deaths from the virus in the last day, the total number of COVID-19 fatalities has reached 30,904.
More than 10,600 people were in hospital with COVID-19, 1,348 of them in intensive care. Coronavirus patients occupied nearly 10% of all hospital capacity across Spain, but in hard-hit regions like Madrid that share was as high as 25.5% as doctors complain of a lack of staff and resources.
Spain has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Western Europe and health authorities in Catalonia said they would limit gatherings to six people from 10 across the northeastern region to reduce contagion.
In some of the working-class neighbourhoods in Madrid where infections have been soaring, regional authorities have ordered a partial lockdown from Monday, triggering protests and accusations of discrimination against poorer areas.
Business owners in the newly confined working class area of Carabanchel complained of a steep drop in clients on Tuesday.
“It feels like people are afraid, they don’t even stop. It is a bit contradictory because there are many people on the streets,” said Marcelo Arandia, who works at a food stand.
Teofilo Jimenez, who works in a family-run restaurant, said the new restrictions appeared useless.
“Because if they put restrictions in one neighbourhood but then you can go to work in another neighbourhood, then you can take the virus here and there,” he said.
“It is pointless. They tell us to stay open but tell people to stay home … how will I cover my costs?”
(Reporting by Guillermo Martinez, May Ponzo, Andrei Khalip; Editing by Nick Macfie)