MADRID – COVID-19 protesters call out ‘discriminatory’ measures

Thousands of residents from South Madrid’s neighbourhoods took to the streets over the weekend, protesting against the “discriminatory” nature of new coronavirus restrictions. Madrid’s regional government was  also criticised for “marginalizing” the “poor” south of Spain’s capital.

Those living in the six districts of the Spanish capital and another seven municipalities in the area – which would gather close to 1 million people – were not allowed as of Monday to leave these zones, unless they were to travel for work or other essential activities. However, those areas are home to 13% of the capital’s population and a quarter of the city’s infections.

Gatherings are now limited to six people, and shops, bars and restaurants are only allowed to operate at 50% capacity. One million tests will be carried out in the affected areas.

On Monday (21 September), Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez met Madrid’s regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso (conservative, Partido Popular) and offered the support of the central government, EFE reported.

The new measures have created more confusion among residents in the most affected areas, EFE reported on Monday.

Residents of Vallecas, which is the district with the highest infection rate (1,903.96 per 100,000 people) told EFE that boosting severely underfunded and understaffed local health services is much needed.

The new measures come after several weeks of Madrid authorities reporting the highest number of new coronavirus cases in Spain, more than three times higher than other areas of the country. And yet the recent spikes have put more pressure on the city’s precarious healthcare system, as 64% of the ICUs are occupied with COVID-19 patients.

The latest figures published by officials on Friday placed Madrid ahead of all other Spanish regions, with 1,553 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, and as one of the worst affected capital cities in the world. (EUROEFE with EPA)

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