Spain is dealing with the highest ever number of coronavirus infections, with some regions considering further curbs on social life ahead of the end of the year. Updating pandemic figures for the first time in four days, health authorities reported 214,619 new cases late on Monday, bringing the 14-day national caseload to a pandemic record level of 1,206 new infections per 100,000 residents. At the height of the January surge, which until now was the one that infected most people in Spain, the rate had surged to 900.
The explosive spike is largely blamed on the omicron variant, which scientists say spreads faster than previous strains although the number of infected patients who need hospital care is proportionally less than in previous surges. Official data shows that 7.5% of Spanish hospital beds and 18% of intensive care units are treating COVID-19 patients. Authorities reported 120 new deaths since Dec. 23.
In response to the soaring caseload, some Spanish regions are now considering restrictions they resisted only a week ago, when authorities only imposed mandatory mask wearing outdoors. The northern regions of Navarra, Aragon and Cantabria, among others, are now limiting nightlife, imposing curfews or considering caps on members of different households allowed to gather together.