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LATEST: Madrid residents urged to ‘stay at home’ as Spain’s coronavirus death toll leaps to 84

The surge in infections brought the total to 2,968 cases in Spain up from 2,140 on Wednesday evening, with deaths leaping to 84 from 48 within the same time frame.

LATEST: Madrid residents urged to 'stay at home' as Spain's coronavirus death toll leaps to 84
A mask has been placed on a model at Las Fallas after the fiesta was cancelled. Photo: AFP

Although there is no official lockdown in the capital, schools and public offices are closed, people are being told to work from home, cultural and sporting events are suspended and sports centres, museums and other cultural spaces closed.

A campaign by Madrid's regional health authorities is urging people not to leave the house unless that have to, in order to curb the spread of the virus and not overwhelm the health service which is already at breaking point.

“This morning, all members of the government will undergo testing,” a government statement said, indicating the results would be published later in the day.

“The minister (Irene Montero) is in a good condition and second deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias is also in quarantine due to the situation.”   


The couple have both been isolated to prevent contagion. Photo: AFP

Montero tested positive on Wednesday evening, three days after appearing at a mass march of some 120,000 people through Madrid for International Women's Day.

 

A special cabinet meeting to discuss an emergency plan of action to respond to the crisis went ahead around 1200 GMT as planned, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and 14 other ministers, it said.

However, all of Sanchez's upcoming appointments would be conducted by video conference.

Spain has seen the number of infections spiral since the start of the week, becoming one of the worst-hit countries in Europe. Madrid has borne the brunt of the crisis with 1,388 infections and 38 deaths.   

The International Women's Day demonstration on Sunday evening took place just hours before health authorities detected a huge spike in infections.

Schools in other regions including Galicia, Catalonia, Murcia and Asturias will be closed from Friday.

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COVID-19

Public Health Agency recommends two Covid doses next year for elderly

Sweden's Public Health Agency is recommending that those above the age of 80 should receive two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn, as it shifts towards a longer-term strategy for the virus.

Public Health Agency recommends two Covid doses next year for elderly

In a new recommendation, the agency said that those living in elderly care centres, and those above the age of 80 should from March 1st receive two vaccinations a year, with a six month gap between doses. 

“Elderly people develop a somewhat worse immune defence after vaccination and immunity wanes faster than among young and healthy people,” the agency said. “That means that elderly people have a greater need of booster doses than younger ones. The Swedish Public Health Agency considers, based on the current knowledge, that it will be important even going into the future to have booster doses for the elderly and people in risk groups.” 

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People between the ages of 65 and 79 years old and young people with risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, poor kidney function or high blood pressure, are recommended to take one additional dose per year.

The new vaccination recommendation, which will start to apply from March 1st next year, is only for 2023, Johanna Rubin, the investigator in the agency’s vaccination programme unit, explained. 

She said too much was still unclear about how long protection from vaccination lasted to institute a permanent programme.

“This recommendation applies to 2023. There is not really an abundance of data on how long protection lasts after a booster dose, of course, but this is what we can say for now,” she told the TT newswire. 

It was likely, however, that elderly people would end up being given an annual dose to protect them from any new variants, as has long been the case with influenza.

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