MADRID • The prevalence of the coronavirus in Spain has risen three-fold over the past three weeks as the authorities struggle to contain a rash of fresh clusters, mainly in the Catalonia and Aragon regions, Health Ministry data showed on Monday.
After registering thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths per day during an early April peak, Spain then succeeded in slowing the number of new infections to a trickle.
But since restrictions on movement were lifted and Spaniards eased back into daily life, some 201 new clusters have appeared, with heavy concentrations in and around the Catalan cities of Barcelona and Lleida.
The occurrence of the corona-virus has jumped from eight cases per 100,000 inhabitants at the end of June, when the country’s state of emergency ended, to 27 per 100,000, deputy health emergency chief Maria Sierra told a news conference on Monday.
Over the weekend, 4,581 new cases were recorded, bringing the total to 264,836, she added.
More than 28,000 people have died.
“Where measures have been relaxed is where these clusters appear,” said Health Minister Salvador Illa. “We’re talking about gatherings of extended family and spaces associated with nightlife.”
Describing the situation in Catalonia as a matter of concern, he appealed to residents to respect health measures.
Last Friday, the Catalan regional government urged some four million people, including residents of Spain’s second largest city, Barcelona, to stay at home and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
It also told bars and restaurants to reduce their capacity.
That was in addition to ordering the mandatory confinement of at least 160,000 people around Lleida.
To prevent similar outbreaks, most Spanish regions have made the wearing of face masks compulsory even when social distancing can be guaranteed.