A woman was walking down the street this Friday in Vallecas, one of the restricted areas in Madrid.Bernat Armangue / AP
What the central government proposes to tackle the epidemic in Madrid supposes, for practical purposes, practically confining the entire community.
Of the 286 basic areas into which it is divided, in 200 there is an incidence of 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days, which is the threshold set by Minister Salvador Illa on Friday.
In 47 areas that figure doubles —including most of those that already have restrictions—, in eight areas it triples, as in La Elipa or El Pozo de Tío Raimundo.
In Puerta Bonita and Peña Prieta the incidence exceeds 1,800 cases.
In those 200 areas with more than 500 cases of incidence, almost three out of every group of people in Madrid live (71%): about 4.7 million people.
The population that lives in areas where the incidence exceeds 400 cases already reaches 90% and only 0.1% lives in areas with an incidence of less than 200.
The regional government chose this Friday to extend the restrictions to a total of 45 districts, where around 15% of the community's population resides (just over a million people).
The average incidence in Madrid is 722, more than double that of Spain (282).
They are followed by Castilla y León (372) Aragón (381), Murcia (404), Castilla-La Mancha (418), La Rioja (495) and the only other autonomy that, as a whole, exceeds the border that Illa marked: Navarra (663).
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The community has established a criterion of 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, although it has made exceptions.
It began applying them to 37 sanitary zones last Monday, and this Friday it added another eight more in which it will be applied from next week, but there are a dozen more (with data from Tuesday, the latest published) that would be within these margins.
The borders established by both the Government and the Community are not without a certain component of arbitrariness.
“There is no technical criterion that tells you exactly what to do.
Everything is based on the interpretation of the data, ”says Fernando Rodríguez Artalejo, professor of Public Health at the Autonomous University of Madrid.
Artalejo defends that the incidence rate, although important, should not be the only criterion that guides the actions of the Administrations when decreeing measures.
“It is not the same in Navarra as in Madrid, where transmission conditions are more favorable.
We must also see the capacity of the health system, which in Navarra and the Basque Country is stronger than in other communities ”, he adds.
This and other experts consulted by EL PAÍS are critical of establishing restrictions in health districts, since citizens usually do not even know which is theirs and mobility among them in a city like Madrid causes, in their opinion, that they have an effectiveness limited.
What areas to confine
Most of the specialists asked are in favor of extending the confinement to the entire region.
Margarita del Val, virologist at the CSIC proposes an alternative: “To confine an entire health area en masse would only be valid to limit the infection to that area, and then apply measures to alleviate the spread of the pandemic in the worst hit areas: tested , tracking, quarantine, isolation.
But after confining in mass I do not see that they apply more measures ”.
In her opinion, it would be more useful to conscientiously search for cases and isolate people rather than areas or generalized confinement.
In addition, in the hardest hit areas, it proposes other complementary initiatives: “Improve public transport, since most need it because they cannot telecommute, make a good diagnosis so that they can immediately leave work… And not close day parks.
Moderate exercise and sunbathing in the open air (vitamin D) is good for many things, and especially for keeping the immune system healthy, which, beyond hygiene measures, is the only thing we have to defend ourselves against the virus.
We will have to wait for the data update next Tuesday to see if more sanitary zones add up to the thresholds established by the community.
Although in recent weeks the incidence in practically all of them has been rising strongly, throughout this period, in Madrid there has been a setback: from the peak of 772 that reached 721 this Friday on Tuesday.
In these data, however, the restrictions on mobility that began on Monday in 37 health districts have not yet been able to influence, since between the incubation time of the virus and the diagnosis, an average of at least one week passes.
That is, in the best of cases, if the restrictive measures take effect, it will begin to be verified over the next week.
It will then be confirmed whether this downward trend continues or has been one of the many saw teeth that the epidemic shows more or less randomly.
Information about the coronavirus
- Here you can follow the last hour on the evolution of the pandemic
- This is how the coronavirus curve evolves in Spain and in each autonomy
- Download the tracking application for Spain
- Search engine: The new normal by municipalities
- Guide to action against the disease