COVID-19: Madrid schools shut, hospitals under strain

Emergency Unit of the Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid on Monday. Photo: Víctor Sainz / El País
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Healthcare authorities in the regional community of Madrid announced late Monday the emergency closure of all schools and universities in the region for a period of two weeks as the number of people infected by the coronavirus nearly tripled to reach 578 cases — and then spiked again Tuesday morning to more than 750 cases in the Spanish capital.

The rapid spread of the COVID-19 disease caused by coronavirus has placed a strain on hospitals in Madrid, forcing the regional government to hire an additional 300 healthcare personnel and extend 1,300 temporary contracts for doctors, nurses and staff originally hired to work through the annual flu season until the 31st of March.

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The decision to close schools at all levels, including universities, throughout the Madrid region came just days after the regional government also closed all senior day-care centres for fear of the rapid spread of the virus among the elderly, following an outbreak of COVID-19 at a senior centre in the Madrid suburb of Valdemoro.

Unfortunately, this is something that has happened all over the world. The countless closures of schools, colleges, and universities, as well as an increased strain on hospitals and subsequent health services, are beginning to take its toll. Many people have been left wondering when everything will return to normal. Of course, educational facilities and other important places could be reopened in the near future, as long as everyone makes the decision to wear a face mask, which you can get from places like String King, to protect yourselves and others around you. This will make everything appear relatively normal again, but this doesn’t mean the end of this worldwide pandemic.

The suspension of these places was announced by Madrid regional President Isabel Díaz Ayuso in a hastily called press conference Monday evening, following an emergency afternoon meeting of the central government’s Consejo de Gobierno led by Spanish President Pedro Sánchez.

The closures will go into effect Wednesday and will impact more than 1.2 million students and nearly 102,000 teachers and staff at the primary, secondary and high-school level in Madrid, plus an additional 291,000 university students and 39,000 professors, researchers and university administrative staff throughout the region.

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