Spain government declares Covid state of alarm in Madrid amid stand-off

(Update 2: Adds latest coronavirus figures)

Madrid, Oct 9 (EFE).- The Spanish government on Friday declared a state of alarm in Madrid and its outlying region to re-apply restrictions that had been struck down by a court amid staunch opposition from city officials in one of Europe’s Covid-19 hotspots.

It marks the latest dramatic twist in a week of political squabbling, legal challenges and uncertainty for millions of people in the Spanish capital ahead of a holiday weekend, which would normally be a chance to escape the city.

“Patience has its limits,” Salvador Illa, Spain’s health minister, told a press conference.

“It’s very important that the infection rate in Madrid does not spread to the rest of Spain,” he added.

He said the central government had wanted to reach an agreement with regional officials in Madrid but that the latter “had decided to do nothing.”

Illa said there were currently 3,361 Covid-19 patients receiving hospital treatment in the Madrid region.

“We can fold our arms or we can fight against the virus. It is the obligation of the government to flatten the curve, although it requires sacrifices.”

The measures being enforced in the Spanish capital are the same as those imposed on 2 October. Residents of Madrid and eight suburbs with high infection rates are prohibited from traveling outside city limits save for essential journeys.

Police are due to resume checkpoints at the city’s main exit points.

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