Spain reports record 40,197 COVID-19 cases

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Enfermera Isabel Zendal hospital in Madrid
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MADRID (Reuters) - Spain reported a record 40,197 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, while the incidence of the disease measured over the past 14 days hit a new high of 575 cases per 100,000 people, climbing from 522 cases the previous day, Health Ministry data showed.

The latest update brought the cumulative tally of infections to 2,252,164, while the death toll rose by 235 to 53,314.

Health officials have blamed lax adherence to restrictions on travel and socialising over the Christmas holidays for the surge, which has prompted several regions to tighten measures over the past week.

In Madrid, which has some of the loosest restrictions in the country, authorities on Friday brought forward a night curfew by one hour to 11 p.m. and urged residents not to socialise in other peoples' houses.

Bars, restaurants and cafes will remain open, but with limits on capacity.

Meanwhile, an attempt by the northern region of Castile and Leon to impose an 8 p.m. curfew was overruled by the Health Ministry, which said 10 p.m. was the earliest time allowed under national rules.

Earlier in the week the ministry had rebuffed a request by the region's government to enforce a stay-at-home rule within its borders.

Unlike other European countries such as Britain and the Netherlands, which have extended national lockdowns, Spanish officials have repeatedly said a return to home confinement should not be necessary.

(Reporting by Nathan Allen, editing by Andrei Khalip and Giles Elgood)