Spain tops 700,000 coronavirus cases, Madrid surge in spotlight

Spain tops 700,000 coronavirus cases, Madrid surge in spotlight”

Madrid has become the epicenter of the contagion with a rate of infection of almost 700 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks - almost three times the national average.

Madrid's regional government expanded the number of areas under partial lockdown Friday in a move now affecting a million people, but ignoring a central government plea for restrictions across the capital.

The capital region, which has 6.7 million residents, half of whom live in Madrid itself, accounts for over a third of hospital admissions in Spain.

He said the threshold of contagion incidence to decide which suburban town to confine should be lowered to 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which is roughly twice the national average.

The Spanish Health Ministry said Friday that the Madrid region had reported 1,001 confirmed infections in 24 hours, about one-fourth of the daily nationwide total for new cases.

Illa said he had expected tougher measures from Madrid in the wake of the meeting between the region's leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Monday. The community of Aragon in northeastern Spain had the next highest number after Madrid.

Virus Outbreak Spain
A woman cross the street in front a riot police unit in Madrid

Almost 860,000 Madrid residents are already required to justify trips out of 37 neighborhoods, mostly working-class areas where locals have complained that the coronavirus restrictions are stigmatizing the poor.

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 984 068 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Friday.

The extension, which was announced by the Madrid region's deputy health chief Antonio Zapatero, means that 45 health areas, a lot of them in the south of the region, now have restrictions on movement in place, affecting around one million inhabitants. But he publicly criticized the "shortcuts" being taken by the regional government and said they would not be enough to control the pandemic.

Both officials, Zapatero and Illa, agreed on recommending all citizens stay at home as much as possible, even for work, and limiting trips out to those that are really necessary. "We should not think selfishly and close everything so that this ends".

The city and the surrounding region is at the epicentre of a second wave of coronavirus that is sweeping Spain, which has claimed more than 31,000 lives and infected over 700,000 in the highest infection rate in the European Union. Because of limited testing and missed cases, among other factors, the figures don't capture the true extent of the damage wrought by the virus.

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