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Spain reports nearly 32,000 COVID-19 cases over weekend

Expanded measures come into effect in Madrid, health minister warns region still at 'serious risk'

Alyssa McMurtry   | 28.09.2020
Spain reports nearly 32,000 COVID-19 cases over weekend

OVIEDO, Spain 

Between Friday and Monday, Spain registered nearly 32,000 more coronavirus cases and 179 deaths as the government continues to clash with local Madrid officials over tightening measures.

As of Monday, more than one million residents in Madrid were confined in their neighborhoods and only allowed to leave for essential tasks such as work and school. These areas also have stricter measures including closed parks and reduced capacity in venues like bars and restaurants.

Yet, over the weekend, Health Minister Salvador Illa warned that the region would be at "serious risk" if it did not take even tighter measures, including a city-wide confinement scheme, as well as lockdown in all areas that have detected more than 500 cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks.

Madrid premier Isabel Ayuso told radio station SER on Sunday that she would follow guidance to close regions within that threshold, but only if all areas of Spain with the same contagion rate were also forced to close.

Illa met on Monday with Madrid's top health authority, but the meeting ended without an agreement.

In a press conference following the meeting, Illa said the pandemic was out of control in Madrid and the region needed to "act immediately" to take more steps.

"We shouldn't fool ourselves, the next weeks are going to be very tough," he said.

Overall, the data suggests that the number of infections remains stable. During the previous weekend, Spain reported just over 31,400 infections, only slightly less than on Monday.

Madrid also reported the lowest number of daily cases in more than a month on Sunday. Over the weekend, hospitalizations also remained stable, spurring Ayuso to celebrate the fact that "the measures are working."

Yet at the same time, the region has also changed protocol to no longer test children who have been exposed to an infected classmate and began using rapid tests for diagnosis, which are not included in the total number of cases.

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