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'Could Already Be A Second Wave': Some Restrictions Return As Cases Spike In Spain

People walk along the Ramblas last week in Barcelona, Spain. The country has seen cases of the coronavirus spike in recent weeks.
People walk along the Ramblas last week in Barcelona, Spain. The country has seen cases of the coronavirus spike in recent weeks.

A month after lifting its lockdown, Spain announced 922 new cases of the coronavirus. The country has now seen 272,421 total cases and 28,432 deaths.

"It could already be a second wave, but that's not the most important thing," María José Sierra, Spain's deputy chief of health emergencies, told outlets including The Guardian on Thursday. "The most important thing is that we keep following what's going on, see what measures are necessary, and take them early."

The new case numbers are tracking far higher in recent weeks than they were in June when the daily average was 132.

Spain's daily new infection number was down slightly from 974 on Thursday – that day marked the country's highest daily increase since May 8, as NPR's Lucía Benavides reported.

The country now finds itself with 280 local outbreaks.

More than 17,800 new cases have been confirmed in the last two weeks, nearly half of them in Catalonia. The region is home to the usually bustling tourist city of Barcelona, where authorities this week reduced the number of people permitted on the city's beaches amid the surge in cases.

Rates of infection are also high in the northeastern regions of Aragón and Navarra.

Spain had strict lockdowns for three months, and now that restrictions have lifted, Spain is seeing a trend similar to the United States, with more young people catching the virus. Ninety-one cases have been linked to a single nightclub in Córdoba.

Other hot spots are connected to crowded living conditions for seasonal farm workers.

In Catalonia, the result has been what many dread: the return of tighter restrictions. In Barcelona and two other districts, the Catalan government has reduced occupancy levels inside bars and restaurants, closed clubs and gyms, and suspended cultural activities.

The Catalan government also recommends – but does not require – staying home except to perform essential activities.

On Friday, France issued an advisory warning its citizens against travel to Catalonia, and Norway announced that travelers returning from Spain would need to quarantine for 10 days, Reuters reported.

"We'd just started to see things coming back to life with the arrival of a few foreign tourists," one Barcelona bar owner said, "so this is a step backwards."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.