Mon, 26 Oct 2020

MADRID, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa on Monday reiterated his warning to the regional government of Madrid that it needs to take further action to stop the spread of coronavirus in and around the Spanish capital.

Illa spoke to journalists here after his meeting with the Madrid region's health authorities earlier on Monday ended without an agreement on the implementation of further measures against the virus.

On Monday, the authorities in Madrid restricted mobility in a further eight health areas (these are smaller than a city district and can include several primary health care centers), taking the total to 45. It means that just over a million people now face travel restrictions (which do not apply to people traveling to work or school).

However, in other parts of the capital, bars and restaurants are still allowed to work at 75 percent capacity. Even in the restricted parts of Madrid they operate at 50 percent capacity.

Illa explained that the Community of Madrid had reported 13,449 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, 1,458 more than the previous weekend, and that 223 people had lost their lives in the last week in Madrid -- 40 more than in the previous seven days.

"There is community transmission" of the virus, which is spreading without control, he said. "The numbers continue to rise."

"Madrid is responsible for almost 40 percent of all cases in our country and 20.7 percent of all PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are positive, almost twice the rate of the rest of Spain," said Illa, delivering a clear message to Isabel Diaz Ayuso, president of the Community of Madrid.

"We are late, and we need to act with determination... We ask the president of the community to let us help. There are difficult weeks ahead and we need to act," he said. "If we do not take control of the situation, we will have to take more difficult decisions."

On Sunday night, Diaz Ayuso said on TV network Antena 3 that "our strategy is working and we are containing the numbers, but we need resources and help."

The Spanish Health Ministry on Monday reported over 31,000 new coronavirus cases since Friday in all of Spain, taking the total number of cases to 748,266.

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