Spain became the first Western European country to exceed 1 million COVID-19 infections on Wednesday.
It doubled its tally in just six weeks despite a series of increasingly stringent measures to control the second wave of the virus.
Health ministry data showed total cases had reached 1,005,295, rising by 16,973 from the previous day. The death toll increased by 156 to 34,366.
After slowing to a trickle in the wake of Spain’s strict March-to-June lockdown, the infection rate accelerated to frequently exceed 10,000 cases a day from late August, hitting a new peak of more than 16,000 last week.
Many blame impatience to be rid of state-imposed restrictions meant to contain coronavirus contagion, or weariness with social distancing guidelines.
While daily deaths have been hovering around 100 – a far cry from the peak of nearly 900 registered in late March – hospital admissions have jumped 20% nationwide in two weeks and 70% in the affluent northeastern region of Catalonia alone.
That may potentially force some Barcelona hospitals to suspend non-urgent procedures.
The government is also contemplating curfews for the worst-hit areas, including the capital Madrid, where a two-week state of emergency is due to expire on Saturday.