© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Madrid
MADRID (Reuters) – The Spanish Health Minister on Saturday urged authorities in Madrid to tighten restrictions in the coronavirus hotspot, warning that residents of the capital and surrounding regions without tougher curbs are at "serious risk" .
Madrid on Friday extended partial lockdowns in several dozen districts with high infection rates and rejected the national government's recommendations for a city-wide lockdown as cases continue to increase in the capital.
"Madrid is in a serious risk situation and it is time to act decisively," said Health Minister Salvador Illa at a press conference.
"There is a serious risk to residents and neighboring regions," he said, calling on the capital's regional authorities to "make citizens' health a priority".
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Spain rose by 12,272 from the previous day on Friday to 716,481, the highest number in Western Europe. More than 31,000 people have died from COVID-19.
The Spaniards experienced one of the strictest barriers in Europe from March to May when they were not allowed to leave their homes. After the restrictions were lifted completely on June 21, the pandemic has increased again.
Most of Madrid's 45 districts covered by the new restrictions are high-density, low-income areas, leading to complaints of "class restriction", including during a protest outside the city council late Friday.
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