Madrid Desk, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- Spain on Monday added more than 19,000 coronavirus cases to its books over the weekend while Germans started the week with new rules mandating mask use in all public spaces where social distancing cannot be observed.
Spanish health authorities on Monday added 19,382 coronavirus cases to the national tally over the weekend as health officials cleared a backlog of cases dating to previous days. Some 2,060 new cases were detected in the last 24 hours.
The huge rise in infection figures brings the country’s running total since the outbreak began to more than 400,000 and prompted authorities to warn of possible tougher restrictions to get a handle on what appears to be a second wave of coronavirus in Spain.
Fernando Simon, who is in charge of the country’s Covid-19 public health response, said almost 5,500 people had been hospitalized with coronavirus across the country, 658 of whom were in ICU.
The number of deaths — 96 in the last week — remains far below the level recorded in the height of the pandemic in Spain but the number of younger patients being admitted for treatment was rising along with the number of cases, he added. More than 28,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Spain since the outbreak began.
The majority of the new cases are being detected in the capital Madrid, which was the worst-hit region during the months of March, April and May.
“The situation in Madrid is developing quickly and we have to do things quickly,” he said.
Since the end of the state of alarm, which underpinned the draconian lockdown in Spain, two months ago, the Covid-19 response has been in the hands of regional governments.
The health expert also reminded the public to ensure their masks, which are mandatory in the streets of Spain, complied with health standards.
Police officers and public officials in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state which is home to more than 18 million people, on Monday began patrolling public transport to ensure users were wearing face masks.
Those found to be flouting the rules on mandatory wearing of masks covering the nose and mouth will be fined 150 euros.
Germany’s 16 federal states have agreed to make wearing masks obligatory wherever social distancing cannot be observed in order to stem a new rise in coronavirus infections.
States will be able to decide for themselves how to enforce the rules and how to punish those that disobey the orders.
In Berlin and in the Saarland, fines could reach up to 500 euros, while in Saxony, the maximum penalty is just 60 euros.
Berlin’s public transport operator, BVG, said three weeks ago that it had reported some 30,000 infractions against the measures.
There were another 771 coronavirus cases logged by the Robert Koch Institute in the last 24 hours, although the real figure is likely to be higher due to delays in collecting data over the weekend. Last week officials detected 1,7000 cases in a single day, the highest figure since April.
Italy has entered the global race to find a Covid-19 vaccine with the start of clinical tests on humans amid a recent spike in cases in the country that was one of the worst-hit at the beginning of the pandemic.