Health Minister Salvador Illa

Health Minister Salvador Illa.

20-10-2020Emilio Naranjo

Spain needs drastic measures to combat an out-of-control new wave of the coronavirus pandemic and is considering new restrictions including curfews, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Thursday.

Illa will hold a video meeting on Thursday afternoon with regional health chiefs to agree on new measures. On Wednesday Spain became the first country in Western Europe to have recorded more than one million cases of the virus.

"The second wave is a reality. In many areas of our country, the epidemic is out of control," Illa told Onda Cero radio.

"I insist we have to take drastic measures, as do several regions," he said. A number of regions are advocating for localised curfews such as those implemented in France and other European countries with lower infection rates, he said.

Desperate to avoid a repeat of the first wave, when the virus ravaged Spain's elderly population and brought the health service to its knees, several regions have already taken steps, including telling restaurants to shut down earlier than usual.

But with a two-week lockdown of Madrid and surrounding cities coming to an end on Friday, and the contagion rates growing, more needs to be done, Illa said.

"We are at the doorstep of winter, when most activities are carried out indoors, when probability of virus contagion is higher. We cannot lower our guard," he said.

"The horizon we have been discussing with technicians from the ministry and European colleagues is of five to six very hard months."

While daily deaths have been hovering around 100 - a far cry from the peak of nearly 900 registered in late March - hospital admissions have jumped 20% nationwide, triggering warnings that some non-urgent surgeries may need to be postponed.

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