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World News

'Avoidable' coronavirus outbreak tears through Madrid homeless shelter

MADRID (Reuters) - A coronavirus outbreak at a Madrid homeless shelter, where 26 new infections were diagnosed on Wednesday amid a resurgence of the virus in Spain, has led staff to blame city authorities for not isolating those infected as they remained in crammed rooms.

With around 40 people cohabiting in a single room with shared showers, they say a single case detected a month ago has led to contagion, and one death, that could have been avoided.

“When we notified the first cases, something specific for them should have been set up ... It’s impossible for us to keep them separated and (the Madrid council) are not evacuating them,” Mariluz, a nurse at the San Isidro shelter, told Reuters.

The caseload in the shelter has now risen to 32 of its 250 residents. The shelter tested 125 people on Tuesday and created a makeshift isolation zone for infected inhabitants.

Madrid’s council said it would not remove the confirmed cases immediately, promising to prepare a hotel to accommodate moderate cases next week.

“We can’t wait two weeks for the hotel,” said Evaristo Bordallo, a 39-year-old social worker. “We need these people to be isolated within single rooms with individual showers in order to prevent others from being infected.”

A source at Madrid’s social affairs department said authorities were working with health services to reorganise the space to isolate those infected inside.

Since bringing the first wave of coronavirus largely under control through a strict lockdown which ended in June, Spain suffered a sharp resurgence of infections as measures were relaxed and testing increased.

Reporting by Silvio Castellanos and Michael Gore; writing by Clara-Laeila Laudette; editing by Andrei Khalip and Giles Elgood

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