Oct 21, 2020 - World

Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million COVID-19 cases

Picture of a group of workers from aesthetic and wellness centers block traffic during a demonstration against Covid lockdown measures in Spain

Photo: Miquel Benitez/Getty Images

Spain exceeded 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, becoming the first country in Western Europe to hit the milestone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The state of play: Spain, which reported 16,973 cases over the previous 24 hours, was one of the most affected countries when the pandemic started, and cases have been on the rise since September, according to NPR.

  • Experts say the true number of cases and deaths is likely bigger than what's been reported due to insufficient testing, low hospitalization and asymptomatic cases, AP writes.

The big picture: The country has tightened restrictions as the case count surges.

  • Earlier Wednesday, the regional government of northern Aragón announced it closed city limits of Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel
  • The Spanish government ordered a partial lockdown in Madrid on Oct. 1, but was met with resistance from the regional government, which said the lockdown was "not legally valid," BBC reports.
  • Regional governments in Navarra and La Rioja are also preparing to close their borders this week.

On Tuesday, Spain's Health Ministry warned that the government may decree a national state of emergency, La Vanguardia reports.

  • "Some very hard weeks are coming," the national Health Minister Salvador Illa said. "The second wave is not longer a threat, but a reality in all of Europe."

What to watch: Illa plans to meet with health officials across the region on Thursday to discuss further virus strategies.

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