COVID-19: Madrid nurses strike, Catalonia to open clubs


Spain remains in the throes of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with the Health Ministry reporting nearly 10,500 additional cases Wednesday to take the tally to more than 835,000.

While infections soar, the Catalonia region is set to reopen nightclubs within days.

Other cities like Berlin and Brussels moved to restrict nightlife this week, Catalonia will allow discos to reopen for the first time since the end of July.

They will have to close at 3 a.m., but dancing will be banned.

Madrid officials said Wednesday that by the end of next week they plan to allow nightclubs to begin operating as restaurants to help the struggling sector.

Nightclubs in Spain were closed during the summer after they were thought to be behind a surge in cases.

Meanwhile, in Madrid, nurses began an indefinite strike Wednesday, demanding more staff and better working conditions.

“We’re not going on strike for fun, but because we’ve been pushed to the limit. We are doing it for ourselves and everyone in Madrid because they have a right to get decent healthcare,” Laura Bonillo told the Spanish daily El Pais.

Nearly all nurses allowed to strike participated, according to the nursing union Satse, although most had to continue working to fulfill essential roles. 

The union said in order for Madrid to meet criteria set by the 37-member Organization for Economic Co-operations and Development (OECD), the region would have to hire 12,000 additional nurses. Nursing is also fueled by temporary contracts and precarious working conditions.

Nationally, Spain has between five and six nurses per 1,000 capita -- far below the EU average of eight or nine -- according to the OECD, while Madrid falls well below the national average.

The strike comes as Madrid’s health care system continues to be stretched by a rising number of COVID-19 patients. As of Wednesday, coronavirus patients occupied 22% of all the region’s hospital beds and 40% of intensive care units.

Across Spain, nearly 18% of all ICU beds and 9% of all hospital beds are being used to treat COVID-19 patients.

Health officials reported 76 more deaths from the disease Wednesday -- down nearly 200 from Tuesday.

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