“Madrid is special because the health of Madrid is the health of Spain,” Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa told a news conference Wednesday as he announced the measures, calling the situation “complex” and “worrying.”
The restrictions will apply to municipalities with more than 500 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, where the number of positive cases surpasses 10% of all diagnostic tests or where Covid-19 patients make up more than 35% of occupied ICU beds.
Madrid reported 1,586 new infections Wednesday, or 40% of the national increase. Its regional government opposed the measures, arguing that the outbreak was under control.
The sweeping confinement echoes strict new measures that are being introduced in many countries across the continent as a second wave grips Europe.
Professor Gail Carson, Vice Chair of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, told CNN “we must take the recent surges of Covid-19 in Europe seriously and continue to do all we can as part of a community to limit the spread.”
“The virus creates a collective need, which merits a collective response. We know from earlier this year how quickly the virus spread can get out of control,” she said.
New restrictions in northern England
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Thursday announced a ban on households mixing indoors for Liverpool and several other cities in northern England following a rapid rise in cases. The new measures also recommend against non-essential travel, amateur sports watching and care home visits except in exceptional circumstances.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that this was a “critical moment,” adding that if the evidence requires it, he will not hesitate to take “more costly” measures.
There were 7,108 new cases in the UK on Wednesday after a record rise on Tuesday. Hancock warned that the R (reproduction) number remains above 1, meaning the virus “continues to spread,” but he told Parliament that there were “early signs” increased measures were having a positive impact.
An interim report from the UK’s largest community Covid-19 testing program released Thursday estimated that more than 1 in 200 people in England have coronavirus, or 0.55% of the population, compared to 0.13% active case in the previous round of testing. Over 65s saw a seven-fold increase, the biggest rise in cases, while young people continued to have the highest rates of infection, with 1 in 100 estimated to have coronavirus.
“While our latest findings show some early evidence that the growth of new cases may have slowed, suggesting efforts to control the infection are working, the prevalence of infection is the highest that we have recorded to date,” said Professor Paul Elliott, director of the REACT (REal-time Assessment of Community…