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The Latest: Spain adds thousands of new coronavirus cases

health worker takes a sample for a PCR test for the COVID-19 at a medical center in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. New daily cases of the coronavirus in Spain have been steadily climbing since the country ended a more than three-month lockdown on June 21.(AP Photo/Andrea Comas)

MADRID:-  Fearing an even sharper surge in coronavirus infections with the opening of the school year in September, some Spanish regions moved Monday to impose new measures against the spread of the pandemic, including bans on large social gatherings.

On Monday, when Spain’s Ministry of Health reported figures for the previous three days, the country added more than 19,000 new cases to its epidemic tally of more than 400,000 since the beginning of the pandemic. The figure is the highest in Europe.

Dr. Fernando Simón, the epidemiology expert in charge of Spain’s response to COVID-19, stopped short of describing the situation as that of a second wave but admitted that contagion with no clear source of infection is now widespread across the country.

“There is a certain level of community transmission in all Spain, but in some regions is more than in others,” Simón said at a press conference. “The return to school is an opportunity for easier transmission of the virus.”

The Health Ministry said that 2,060 of the new cases were diagnosed in the past 24 hours, with 34 new fatalities bringing the total death toll of 28,838. The figures are considered incomplete due to insufficient testing at the beginning of the pandemic, while daily data is often corrected as officials rein in a backlog of the information reported by Spanish regions.

The Catalonia region announced Monday that it was extending a ban on social gatherings of more than 10 people to the region’s 7.6 million inhabitants. Murcia, in the country’s southern coast and with 1.5 million residents, restricted gatherings to a maximum of six people.

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