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Drones to enforce coronavirus rules at Madrid cemeteries on All Saints’ Day

Madrid city hall said Wednesday it will deploy drones at two of the largest cemeteries in the Spanish capital on All Saints' Day to ensure virus restrictions are respected.

Drones to enforce coronavirus rules at Madrid cemeteries on All Saints' Day
Photo: AFP

Spanish families traditionally visit the graves of loved ones on the November 1st holiday but this year, capacity at cemeteries in Madrid has been reduced to half because of the pandemic.   

Groups of visitors will be limited to no more than six and they must respect social distancing rules.

To ensure people keep to the rules, up to 300 municipal police will be deployed daily at cemeteries in the Spanish capital over three days from October 30, city hall said. The figure is 20 percent higher than last year.   

Officers will be backed up by drones at two of the city's largest cemeteries, one of which is La Almudena, where famous Spaniards like flamenco legend Lola Flores and Nobel-winning neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal are buried.   

The other is the Carabanchel cemetery.    

“We can't allow crowds to form either inside or outside” cemeteries on these days, Mayor Jose Luiz Martinez-Almeida told reporters.    

It is not the first time Madrid police have deployed drones to enforce virus restrictions: when a national lockdown began in March, police used loudspeakers mounted on drones to tell people in parks and public spaces to go
home.   

Last week, Spain became the first European Union nation to surpass one million confirmed Covid-19 infections, with the virus claiming more than 35,000 lives thus far.

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COVID-19

Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death. 

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