Spain struggles to contain Europe’s worst virus infection rate

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Just seven weeks after controlling its first coronavirus wave, experts say Spain is once again at a “critical” stage with the worst infection rate in Western Europe.

The country reported an average of 4,923 new daily cases of the respiratory disease during the last seven days, a higher amount than that of Britain, France, Germany and Italy combined, according to a tally compiled by AFP based on official figures.

Spain counts 95 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 24 in France, 17 in Britain, 13 in Germany and just eight in Italy, the first country outside of China to be hit hard by the pandemic.

The spike has led a growing list of countries to impose restrictions on travel to Spain, which has nearly 323,000 confirmed cases of the disease, the highest number in Western Europe and 11th highest in the world.

“It’s a critical moment, we are right at a point where things can get better or worse,” said Salvador Macip, an expert in health sciences at Catalonia’s Open University who has written a book called “The Great Modern Plagues”.

“This means we have to pull out all the stops to curb outbreaks before they become more serious,” he told AFP.

There are currently more than 500 outbreak clusters in Spain, according to the health ministry. The ministry’s emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon acknowledged Monday that there are cases of community transmission in some places that are “not perfectly controlled” but he said they had “gradually subsided” in recent days.