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Madrid's regional government has suspended all educational activity for two weeks starting the day after tomorrow - Wednesday, 11th March - to prevent the expansion of the coronavirus in the region, which at present accounts for around half of Spain's rapidly-rising numbers of infections and deaths from the virus: 577 out of 1,050 confirmed cases of infection in the Spanish state, and 16 of the country's 28 deaths.

This measure, taken on Monday night at an extraordinary meeting of the Madrid regional cabinet, affects nursery, primary and secondary schools, universities and vocational training centres, among others, throughout the region which includes the Spanish capital's metropolitan area and has a population of around 7 million.

"I am sorry to communicate these restrictions, but they are essential," said Madrid regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso. Although "it had not been easy to make these decisions", she said, "public health is above everything else", calling for the public to "take special care of the people who are at greatest risk: the elderly".  

All in-person teaching activity at all levels is thus cancelled, from nursery schools right through to universities, with the exception being activity in special education centres. The measure affects all centres: public, private and mixed.

Ayuso also called on the public to avoid all non-essential travel and movements, and recommendeded that people with existing medical conditions or those of advanced age should not leave their homes or go to crowded places.

This measure is in addition to measures announced previously by the Madrid authorities which include the closure of all recreational and day centres for senior citizens in the region for a period of one month.

The Madrid health minister, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, also present at the press conference, said that the exceptional measures taken by the Madrid authorities "could be extendable depending on the epidemiological situation".