Fri, 30 Oct 2020

Customers dine at a restaurant on Plaza Mayor amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Madrid, Spain, Sept. 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

"The situation today is not comparable to March. There are a significant number of cases, but we are detecting about 80 percent of all cases," Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday.

MADRID, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Commenting on the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Spain, the country's Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday that the current situation is different from that of March, when the government was forced to call a State of Alarm and impose a lockdown.

According to Health Ministry figures, Spain now has 671,468 confirmed cases, and the number of new cases has increased by almost 62,000 in the last seven days and by 131,722 in the past 14 days.

Tourists visit Plaza Mayor amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Madrid, Spain, Sept. 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

In an interview with Spanish radio network Cadena SER on Tuesday morning, Illa was asked if this could be called the "second wave" of the coronavirus. Illa insisted that the rise in cases in recent weeks was different from the initial outbreak.

"The situation today is not comparable to March. There are a significant number of cases, but we are detecting about 80 percent of all cases," he said.

Tourists visit Plaza Mayor amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Madrid, Spain, Sept. 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

At the same time, the minister emphasized that the rising number of cases had to be stopped.

"Either we stop the increase in the number of cases or the increased need for treatment will put pressure on the hospital system and primary care," he said, admitting that in hindsight the government should have acted differently in relaxing the containment measures.

Children wait for their parents after school in Madrid, Spain, on Sept. 9, 2020. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

"I accept that there are things that, had we known them before, we would have done differently," said Illa, who nevertheless said that the de-escalation of restrictions was "successful in its principles of action."

The sharp rise in cases has prompted Madrid to introduce restrictions on movement in certain neighborhoods. While these restrictions have been criticized for focusing on poorer neighborhoods, Illa said that "the measures will work ... things are being done well to stabilize the situation." ■



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