Spain's virus cases up by almost 20,000 as unrest grows

(Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)     

reported another 19,765 infections on Wednesday, as thousands took to the streets to protest the country's increasingly strict .

The number of new infections is up around 15% from last Wednesday, but significantly lower than Monday and Tuesday when week-on-week increases were above 30%.

Fatalities stood at 168 on Wednesday, less than half of the figure reported a day earlier.

Across the country, more than 13% of all PCR tests are coming back positive, according to the Health Ministry.

Spain's hospitals are now treating more than 17,000 active COVID-19 patients, up 377 from Tuesday.

Several Spanish regions, including Catalonia, Madrid, Aragon, and La Rioja, are using more than one-third of their intensive care units (ICUs) to treat patients.

COVID-19 patients are occupying 64% of all ICUs in the Spanish enclave of Melilla.

On Wednesday, Murcia announced it is closing its borders for non-essential travel.

It joined several other regions, including the Basque Country, the two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, and the northern regions of Asturias, Aragon, and Navarra, in putting limits on movement.

Night curfews are also in effect in the entire country, with the exception of the Canary Islands.

This new round of restrictions has triggered protests nationwide.

Workers from the hospitality and tourism sectors have been particularly vocal, taking to the streets in various cities to demand more financial help or less economically damaging restrictions.

Members of the hospitality community in Zamora coordinated a protest in which they pretended to be lying dead and bleeding in their workplaces, saying the sector is being murdered.

Groups of young people have also lashed out against the curfew, coordinating somewhat violent marches in various cities.

On Tuesday night, a group of around 100 protesters in Seville burnt garbage cans and threw firecrackers at police, who took around an hour to stop the rioting.

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