CORONAVIRUS

Three children in Spain test positive for coronavirus

The first case involving a minor was reported in Madrid, followed by two more in Castilla-La Mancha

Health Minister Salvador Illa (l) with Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry's Coordination Center for Health Alerts, at a meeting in Madrid.
Health Minister Salvador Illa (l) with Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry's Coordination Center for Health Alerts, at a meeting in Madrid.Víctor Lerena / EFE

A four-year-old girl from Madrid has tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. The child contracted the virus just days after her father returned from a trip to the north of Italy.

The child is in an early childhood education program at Colegio Paraíso Sagrados Corazones, a religious school run by the Sacred Heart congregation in the Madrid neighborhood of Chamartín. On Tuesday afternoon, the school principal, Gloria Suárez Pliego, notified parents in an email “that a student at the center who was awaiting results has tested positive” for Covid-19. The report was confirmed on Wednesday by Madrid’s regional health department, which said that the girl was “currently showing no symptoms.”

Health authorities refused to test her, because according to them, children don’t get coronavirus
Child’s mother

According to Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies, the four-year-old is one of three children in Spain who have contracted the virus. The other two cases have been reported in Spain’s central region of Castilla-La Mancha. On Tuesday, a teacher at the Santa María la Blanca School in Madrid, was also confirmed to have the virus.

The Madrid girl’s father returned from Bergamo in northern Italy on Saturday, February 22. Bergamo is located in Lombardy, the Italian region hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak and the epicenter of the disease’s spread throughout Europe.

“We are home and fine. We feel scared and in shock [...] I hope no one else is affected,” the child’s mother wrote in a WhatsApp message, to which EL PAÍS has had access, to other parents at the school.

After her husband returned from Italy, the mother began to feel unwell, with a “sore throat, fatigue, diarrhea and chest pain,” she said in her message. Her husband, however, had no symptoms, so emergency services told the woman to see a doctor.

On Saturday, February 29, health authorities decided to test the couple for coronavirus. But “they refused to test her [the child], because according to them, children don’t get coronavirus,” the message continued.

The school administration has remained silent on the issue and refused to answer questions from reporters

On Monday, the couple was told that they had tested positive for Covid-19. Health authorities advised them to leave their daughter with a family member, but said she could continue to go to school because she had no symptoms. The four-year-old, however, did test positive for the virus, as confirmed on Tuesday by the head of her school.

“I think it’s immoral to send [the four-year old] anywhere without knowing her state,” the mother said in the WhatsApp message to other parents at her daughter’s school.

According to the Madrid health department, “the three are at home and progressing well.”

On Tuesday morning, the school sent an email to parents to say that it was following the protocols established by the Health Ministry. Later, at around 4.30pm, parents received another email from the principal informing them that a student had tested positive for coronavirus, according to a mother whose child attends the school.

The school administration has remained silent on the issue and refused to answer questions from reporters. They are set to meet with teachers on Wednesday to discuss information from the regional health department. “We are collecting information,” confirmed a spokesperson from the school. Meanwhile, teachers were seen smoking and drinking coffee outside the center. They told EL PAÍS: “Of course we are nervous,” “We can’t say anything,” and “There’s definitely a bit of fear.”

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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