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Spain: Curfew restored in Catalonia as COVID-19 cases soar

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By Euronews with AFP, AP
Health workers take swab samples collection for a Covid-19 antigen test ahead of the Cruilla music festival in Barcelona, Spain, July 9, 2021.
Health workers take swab samples collection for a Covid-19 antigen test ahead of the Cruilla music festival in Barcelona, Spain, July 9, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Joan Mateu
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A nighttime curfew is to be reintroduced this weekend in several large cities in Catalonia, including Barcelona, because of soaring COVID-19 cases.

The curfew is to run from 01:00 to 06:00 in towns or cities of more than 5,000 residents in which the incidence rate exceeds 400 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia announced on Friday.

It will last until at least July 23.

According to official figures, Spain's 14-day incidence rate currently stands at 458 cases per 100,000, but in the north-eastern region of Catalonia, it is at more than 1,000 cases per 100,000. Barcelona has a rate of 1,145.7 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Young adults are particularly impacted with the incidence rate for the 20-29 age group exceeding 3,000 cases per 100,000 last week in Catalonia.

Health director Josep Maria Argimon said the situation is “very bad,” with more than 8,000 new cases officially reported a day in the region of 7.5 million people.

The curfew comes days after the regional authorities ordered night-time activities to close no later than 00.30 and restricted public and private gatherings to no more than 10 people.

A night-time curfew was also approved on Monday in the neighbouring region of Valencia, while Navarre, which also borders Catalonia, presented the same request to its Superior Court of Justice earlier this week.

Spain has been battling a surge in cases — the number of infections has soared five-fold over the previous fortnight — but the impact on hospital occupancy has, for now, remained limited.

Catalonia, by far the region most affected by the surge in infection, currently has 1,665 people hospitalised because of the virus with COVID-19 patients occupying under 25% of ICU beds.

The Ministry of Health has said that the vaccination campaign has helped to slow the rise in hospitalisations.

More than 61.5% of the 47 million population has received at least one dose, while about 49% are now fully vaccinated.