Madrid to close all schools for 2 weeks after virus spike

Spain's health minister says all schools and universities in the Madrid region will close for two weeks following a sharp spike in coronavirus cases in and around the Spanish capital

National broadcaster TVE said the school shutdowns would affect some 1.2 million students at all levels, from kindergartners to those pursuing university degrees.

In addition to closing educational centers, Illa relayed recommendations for protecting more people in Spain from acquiring the virus. They included for companies to establish reduced working hours and to consider asking their employees to work from home, as well as asking citizens to reduce travel if possible.

“I know these are measures that are disliked and that disrupt the normal life of many citizens, but we are adopting the measures because they are necessary," Illa said at a news conference. He said the steps were based on “scientific evidence and on the criteria of experts."

“But I want to say it clearly," he said. "There are no absolute certainties here.”

Madrid has registered roughly half of the cases of the new virus in the country, with much of the contagion linked to nursing homes and health workers.

Earlier on Monday, authorities in northern Spain's Basque Country also announced the closure of educational centers around the regional capital, Vitoria, where the second-largest case cluster was identified.

For weeks, authorities have repeated that the vast majority of the cases were imported or linked to people who had traveled abroad.

The health minister said that Spain is moving from a "containment" scenario to one of "reinforced containment," with the region of Madrid and the cities of Vitoria and Labastida, in the Basque Country, considered as areas of “high rate of spread.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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