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Spain warns elderly to keep away from grandchildren as COVID-19 cases soar

Spain Virus Outbreak
Spain Virus Outbreak Copyright Xabier Parra/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Copyright Xabier Parra/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Marta Rodriguez MartinezAFP
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Nn a country where only 4% of the population work from home, many working parents rely on grandparents for childcare

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Madrid authorities have advised the elderly to avoid contact with children as the country fights the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Fernando Simón, director of the Center for Health Coordination and Emergencies, said that while very few of those infected with the virus were children, “they are the ones that spread it through society.”

Simon warned against mixing between children and the elderly as Madrid announced the closures of schools, nurseries and universities until March 26.

Spanish authorities confirmed 487 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday bringing the total number to 2,182.

But in a country where only 4% of the population work from home, many working parents rely on grandparents to take care of their children.

According to a 2018 study, cited by AFP, one in four Spanish grandparents is in charge of the daily care of their grandchildren while parents work, including picking up children from school or preparing meals.

With the closure of schools and nurseries, this role of caregiver may lead to even longer days.

"At school, they said that family members should take care of children, especially grandparents. (The government) says that many people can telework from home, but in reality not many can do it," Emilio Salvador, a resident of 67 years in Madrid, who will have to take care of his grandson Jorge for two weeks.

"To be honest, it is bad news because it is a burden that is added to my daily life," admits Paloma Alonso, 72, who will have to take care of her seven and five year old grandchildren.

"I love my grandchildren but I don't like to take care of the daily routine. But I always help my daughter, there is no other way," he says.

The Spanish health authorities, which have closed day centres for the elderly in Madrid to protect them from contagion, are discouraging visits to nursing homes.

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