Spain has become the first country in Western Europe to pass 500,000 coronavirus infections.
The new figures from Madrid came as concerns grow about a resurgence of the virus across Europe, with France tightening restrictions, cases in Britain spiking and schools resuming around the region in recent days.
Spain had largely gained control over its outbreak, but infections have surged since the restrictions were fully removed at the end of June, and there are concerns about the reopening of schools in the country.
“If we all take responsibility and here I am including the children… I believe that the return to school is very possible,” health ministry official Fernando Simon said Monday.
“Although it will have an impact, it will certainly not have an excessive impact.”
Many parents remained reluctant.
The return to school “is being treated as an experiment, we’re like guinea pigs,” said Aroa Miranda, a 37-year-old mother-of-two.
‘We have to get out of our homes.’
In neighbouring Morocco, the government shut all schools and imposed a lockdown on Casablanca on the very day they were supposed to reopen after cases surged in the city.
Officials said the virus risked overwhelming the North African country if it was not controlled, but some parents were left fuming.
“They were on cloud nine over returning to school tomorrow,” one father wrote of his children on Twitter. “How do you explain this to a six-year-old and an eight-year-old?”
Restrictions were also reimposed in France where seven more regions were placed on a red list after successively recording daily infection rates of between 7,000 and 9,000.
In England, officials fiddled with overseas quarantine rules again, imposing curbs on travellers from seven Greek islands popular with holidaymakers, after Britain at the weekend registered a level of infection not seen since late May.