Spain’s federal government has imposed new restrictions on more than three million people living in Madrid as the country tries to control the most serious second wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe.
From this weekend, people living in the Spain’s capital can travel outside their home districts for essential journeys only.
Bars and restaurants cannot serve after 10PM. A maximum of six people are permitted to meet in any setting.
The measures have been demanded by Spain’s federal government.
They also take effect in nine towns around Madrid.
The restrictions have been resisted by Madrid’s city authorities, which tried to use the courts to block their imposition. Madrid’s justice minister said it would cost the capital’s economy €8 billion and regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso wrote on Twitter: “Thanks for the chaos, [Prime Minister] Pedro Sánchez.”
Signs of the second wave of coronavirus infections now breaking over Spain can be seen at the emergency admission unit of the 12 de Octubre hospital, one of the biggest in Madrid.
Every hour ambulances arrive with new patients.
Some of the patients are helped into wheelchairs; others, already needing oxygen, have to be stretchered in by medical staff wearing full protective gear.
A red warning signal indicating the seriousness of Spain’s predicament is that, at many hospitals across Madrid, existing ICU’s are again full with Covid-19 patients.
Hospitals are being forced to use overflow capacity prepared at the height of the pandemic, including beds usually reserved for burns patients and for post-operative recovery.
At La Paz Hospital, another of Madrid’s biggest, all 30 ICU critical care beds are occupied.
Some 10,000 new Covid-19 cases are now being identified in Spain each day.
On October 2, there were 11,325 new infections and 113 deaths.
Around one in four of all tests being done have been coming back positive, another warning signal about the prevalence of the new coronavirus.