Coronavirus: Spain fears it’s on brink of being new Italy as 1,600 test positive

Spain’s equivalent of the House of Commons also suspended sessions for a week after a leader of rightwing party Vox tested positive for coronavirus. The party, which went from 24 to 52 seats in Spain’s last general election, responded by announcing it was sending its MPs home to work.

Tomorrow nurseries, schools and universities in the autonomous community of Madrid, the region most affected by coronavirus in Spain, will shut for at least 15 days.

Schools in the northern province of La Rioja have already closed. 

Spain’s Health Minister Salvador Illa also announced other measures including the suspension for a month of OAP state-subsidised holidays and a ban on all leisure and cultural events for more than 1,000 people in the three most affected areas by coronavirus, which includes Madrid and La Rioja.

The new measures were introduced as Spain’s Ministry of Health confirmed the coronavirus death toll now stood at 35 and and the number of positive cases had reached 1,622 – 400 more than yesterday. 

More than 100 people are in hospital intensive care units.

Government spokesman Maria Jesus Montero said: “We understand that some of the measures that are being introduced are uncomfortable for families, like the closure of schools.

“Their aim is to protect the population. We’re facing a global challenge.”

Sr Illa added: “All the measures we are taking are designed to stop us becoming like Italy.”

The suspension of flights between Italy and Spain is due to take effect from midnight. 

The government described the measure as “proportionate and objective”.

Health chiefs had already asked people to avoid “unnecessary journeys” in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus and have recommended people work from home where possible.

Room Mate Group announced it was closing three of its six hotels in Madrid from tomorrow for a fortnight as a a measure of “responsibility, generosity and solidarity” with customers and staff. 

Sr Illa’s admission the Spanish emergency measures were designed to try to avoid the country ending up like Italy came after a lockdown affecting the north of Italy was extended to cover the whole nation. 

More than 9,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed there, with 463 deaths.

Earlier today the last of the holidaymakers trapped in their Tenerife hotel after a coronavirus outbreak were allowed to leave.

Nearly 70 tourists made to stay in the H10 Costa Adeje Palace after an Italian doctor tested positive for the virus were given the okay to go home from midnight.

Some still had face masks on as they left to applause from hotel workers and police lined up by the front door.

A British woman and six Italians staying at the hotel ended up coming down with coronavirus.

Hundreds of holidaymakers were told to stay in their rooms as the drama unfolded two weeks ago before being allowed to move around the hotel with face masks on.

Foreign tourists were initially told they all faced a two-week lockdown but regional health chiefs later relaxed their conditions and let holidaymakers leave as long as they fulfilled three key conditions which included showing no symptoms of the virus and testing negative.

Confirming the hotel quarantine was about to end in a statement late last night/on Monday night, the regional health authority said: “The restrictive measures of the hotel in the south of Tenerife finish in the early hours of the morning.

“The guests who haven’t yet left can do so because the 14-day period of vigilance has ended.”

It was not immediately clear this afternoon if any Brits were among the last guests to leave.

Authorities on the holiday island have already admitted they would not repeat the lockdown and would seek alternative solutions if there was a new outbreak of coronavirus in a large hotel.

Hotels in Spain’s most popular tourist areas are reporting cancellations. 

The cycling paradise of Majorca is said to be suffering massive cancellations by groups of bicycle tourists.

Easter and summer bookings in Costa Blanca hotels are reportedly down by about 10 per cent on this time last year. 

Coronavirus stockpiling has led to supermarkets in some parts of Madrid being stripped by panic buyers.

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