Coronavirus: Madrid closes museums as death toll rises to 54

Coronavirus: Madrid closes museums as death toll rises to 54
A sign at the gate of a closed school in Madrid. Photo: AFP
Authorities in Spain moved to stem the spread of coronavirus on Wednesday by ordering museums and other cultural spaces to close in Madrid as the number of deaths linked to the virus in the country rose to 54.

Spain's Ministry of Health released updated figures on the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday with 54 confirmed deaths and over 2,200 infections.

Spain's battle against coronavirus has largely focussed on the capital Madrid where over 30 people have died.

On Thursday the Ministry of Culture announced that museums and cultural sites would close including the famous Prado museum.

Some cinemas would also close.

As school pupils in the Spanish capital were kept at home on the first day of schools being closed across the region, authorities also took extra measures to limit access to public spaces.

Libraries and sporting facilities will remain closed for the foreseeable future as too will cultural institutions including some theatres and exhibition spaces.

Public transport will remain open but measures have been introduced to disinfect all public transport daily.

Events expected to draw crowds of over 1,000 people have been suspended as of Wednesday.

And residents of Madrid were urged not to travel to other zones for fear of spreading the virus further. 

“The country is not being locked down or movement impeded, but we’re asking people to be responsible,” insisted Fernando Simón, head of Spain’s emergency health action during his daily lunchtime press briefing on Wednesday.

“Residents in these risk zones have to be aware of the responsibility they have,” he said.

Over half the cases of Covid-19 in Spain have been registered in Madrid where 1,026 people have tested positive. 

MAP: The regions of Spain most affected by coronavirus outbreak

On Tuesday, in one 24 hour period ten people died from the virus bringing the total fatalities in the capital alone to 31, around 66 percent of the 47 fatalities across Spain from the new coronavirus.

Across Spain 126 people diagnosed with the coronavirus are being treated in intensive care with 102 of those at Madrid hospitals.

Those with symptoms should not go to hospital but call the special coronavirus hotline on 900 102 112

 

 

Supermarkets in Madrid have been overwhelmed by shoppers panic buying as residents stockpile essentials such as toilet paper, pasta and milk. 

Long queues formed at stores across the capital and shelves were emptied despite authorities insisting that there is no forseeable supply problems. 

READ MORE: Why there is no need to be panic buying in Spain


Panic buying has left shelves bare in the capital. Photo: AFP

Catalonia, which has far fewer cases than Madrid took the decision to suspend events involving crowds of  more than 1,000 people on Wednesday, while Valencia has called off Las Fallas celebrations. 

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But health ministry emergencies coordinator Fernando Simon said the impact of such measures would only be known “after nine or 10 days”.    

He said it would take “between one and two months” to stop the epidemic, or in a worst-case scenario up to four months.   

 

The government has promised to help the tourism sector in the world's number two tourist destination.


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