Fernando Simón. | Chema Moya


Spain reported a record rise in coronavirus infections over the weekend and the number of new cases measured over the past 14 days spiked to 436 per 100,000 people on Monday, from 350 on Friday, health ministry data showed.

More than 61,000 new cases were reported since Friday - the largest weekend increase since the pandemic began - bringing the cumulative total to 2,111,782, the data showed. Deaths rose by 401 over the same period to 52,275.

Health emergency coordinator Fernando Simon blamed the surge on lax restrictions over the Christmas holidays and said he expected the increase to continue for some time.

"We had a better Christmas than expected and perhaps better than we should have had, and now we are looking at the result," he told a news conference.
"It's a problem of people's behaviour over Christmas."

He played down the effect of the so-called British strain of the virus, which is more contagious and which has been detected across Spain, and said a return to confinement was not necessary just now, reiterating what ministry officials have said since cases began surging since the end of the festive period.

Regions have been toughening up measures, but they lack the power to enforce home confinement. Health ministry officials have repeatedly affirmed in the past week that a return to full lockdown should not be necessary.