Summary of Covid-19 Omicron news: December 23, 2021

Omicron wave prompts Spanish authorities to impose curfew in Catalonia

The region of northeastern Spain Catalonia obtained court approval for a nighttime curfew Thursday while Madrid pledged to distribute millions of additional lateral flow test kits to fight against the Omicron variant which increases infections and eclipses Christmas.

Spain lifted most restrictions this summer thanks to a high vaccination rate which suppressed the infection but The arrival of Omicron sent daily cases soar to a record high more than 72,900 Thursday. The concentration of coronavirus detected in wastewater reached its highest level since the start of a surveillance program in June 2020, the environment ministry said.

Take the hardest line since Spain emerged from state of emergency in May, Catalonia, which surrounds the city of Barcelona, will prohibit residents from leaving their homes between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. from Thursday evening, while other regions have taken a less strict approach. Southern Murcia said closing of non-essential shops at 1 a.m.., considerably reducing the celebrations in a country where bars and restaurants regularly remain open until the early hours of the morning.

The region of Madrid, whose right-wing regional chief has prioritized the hospitality sector throughout the pandemic, has focused on better testing and pledged to distribute 12 million rapid tests this Christmas. A meeting of regional chiefs convened by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday failed to reach broad agreement on measures beyond a mandate to wear masks outside, who won a mixed reception from the Spanish.

The infection rate measured over 14 days reached 911.31 per 100,000 people, surpassing the peak of 900 at the end of January, although hospitals are at about a quarter of the level seen then.

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