Madrid Desk, Sep 7 (efe-epa).- Spain became the first European Union country to confirm more than half a million Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic and now sits in an unenviable ninth place in the global rankings behind Mexico and South Africa.
Elsewhere in Europe, thousands of schoolchildren in Italy and Croatia returned to their classrooms on Monday and German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and US giant Pfizer were authorized to trial a Covid-19 vaccine in Germany.
Spain on Monday passed the grisly milestone of over half a million Covid-19 cases registered since the pandemic began earlier this year as health authorities added 26,500 to the national tally over the weekend, bringing it to 525,549.
Many of the cases were backlogged from the previous week but 2,440 of them were detected in the last 24 hours.
Fernando Simon, the head of the country’s public health response to Covid-19, said 237 people had died from coronavirus in the last week and that there were more than 7,800 people in hospital and over 1,000 in ICU.
Simon added that he expected vaccination programs to be running by the end of the year, but that immunizations would first be given to select groups of at-risk people.
“There won’t be enough vaccines to administer to everyone immediately, but it’s very likely that by the end of the year there will be some vaccines to progressively begin vaccinating people,” he said.
Madrid authorities tightened restrictions on social life in a bid to curb a growing Covid-19 outbreak in the Spanish capital.
Meet-ups now have to be capped at 10 people both in public spaces and inside private homes, although specific activities such as weddings and work activities are exempt. Bull-fighting spectacles have also been put on hold until infection rates can be brought under control.