Spanish Health Minister warns of ‘difficult weeks’ in Madrid

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa has warned that the region of Madrid was facing “difficult weeks” as it struggled to control a dramatic increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

Monday saw the introduction of stricter measures in the Spanish capital, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meetings can now be attended by a maximum of six people, and restrictions on mobility were imposed on 37 areas in the Madrid Autonomous Community in a bid to control the pandemic.

Following a meeting between regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Monday, during which a commission was set up to study the evolution of the pandemic, further measures are expected to be announced on Friday, such as an extension of the mobility restrictions and the further reduction of the number of clients allowed in bars and restaurants.

On Thursday, Illa commented to journalists on the rising number of Covid-19 cases. Currently there are around 10,000 new infections reported each day.

“We are seeing sustained increases in the number of infections in our country. We have to continue with the measures,” he said, adding that the government was “studying all kinds of action in line with the requests we are receiving from the (17) autonomous communities”.

“Difficult weeks are ahead for the Community of Madrid and we need to take determined action to control the pandemic in this region,” Illa said.

It was also confirmed on Thursday that starting from September 28, extra security forces, including members of the military, will strengthen the efforts to combat the virus in the capital.

Members of Spain’s Military Emergency Unit will be involved in helping with testing and disinfecting the worst-hit areas of Madrid, and the police and civil guards will be out in force to help manage quarantine requirements and mobility restrictions.

As of Friday, the total number of coronavirus cases in Spain has increased to 704,209, while the death toll stood at 31,118.