The “real number” of people infected with COVID-19 in Spain since the start of the pandemic “exceeds three million”, Spanish head of government Pedro Sanchez said on Friday.
“The situation is serious,” he said in a televised address in which he did not announce any new measure and which seemed mostly intended to prepare the Spaniards for further restrictions to come soon, when the regions , who have the prerogatives in matters of public health, will have come to an agreement with the central government.
Sanchez recalled that Spain officially passed the milestone of one million cases of the novel coronavirus this week.
But he added that “the real number of infected people (already exceeded) the three million of our compatriots”, explaining this huge difference by the fact that the proportion of positive people detected was very low at the start of the pandemic.
“We are now detecting the majority of cases, around 70%,” he said, compared to just 10% in the first wave.
In the hours leading up to this speech, the presidents of several of the country’s 17 autonomous regions had announced new restrictions or called on the central government to impose a curfew, as has been done in several European countries, like Belgium or France.
The regional authorities in Madrid have announced the ban from Saturday on meetings between midnight and 6 a.m.
The aim is to impose a “drastic reduction in social activity,” said the head of health in the Madrid regional government, Enrique Ruiz Escudero.
Bars and restaurants will have to close at midnight and will no longer be allowed to accept customers after 11 p.m.
The announcement came as the state of alert, an exceptional measure that equates to a state of health emergency, will end on Saturday afternoon in Madrid and eight neighboring towns.
The measure was decreed two weeks ago by the central government to allow the partial closure of the capital, despite objections from the regional government, led by the right-wing opposition.
For his part, the president of the region of Castile and Leon (north) did not wait for the central government to announce that he would impose a curfew on his citizens from this weekend, while the president of the Valencia region indicated that he would do the same in the coming days.
The central government is not opposed to a curfew, but considers that this exceptional regime requires, from a legal standpoint, the prior proclamation of a state of alert and requires the agreement of all regions for this. , which he does not yet have.
Sullenly, Sanchez called on his compatriots to show “determination”, “the utmost social discipline” and “the necessary unity” to “turn the curve” of infections.
“The situation is not comparable with that of March 14, when we were forced to declare confinement”, one of the strictest in the world, he said, adding that he wanted to avoid a new confinement “Because of its consequences on our social life and its economic impact”.
Spain, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, on Wednesday became the sixth country to officially cross one million cases of Covid-19 and recorded nearly 35,000 deaths.