What Maria wanted to do most after a long, tiring day at the nursing home was to seek a little comfort from her children at home, something she had been holding back for nearly a month now.

`I want to hug my children, but I’ve been so scared that I haven’t dared to do it for the past three weeks. I haven’t been tested for nCoV so I don’t know if I’m infected,` Maria said.

Every time she comes home, instead of hugging her child, Maria takes off her shoes outside the door and goes straight to the bathroom, always reminding herself to wear a mask at all times.

Medical staff sit outside Txagorritxu Hospital, Vitoria city, Spain on March 20.

Spanish health officials are racing to disinfect nursing homes across the country, which are considered one of the front lines of the health crisis called Covid-19.

According to Maria’s calculations, 50 residents of the nursing home on the outskirts of Madrid, where she worked, have died in the past three weeks, while about 90 others are quarantined.

`All members of the hospital who were tested were positive. When announcing the number of positive cases, the doctor said ‘Oh my God, it’s too late. Maybe everyone here is positive

Despite this, Maria and her colleagues have not yet been tested or equipped with the necessary protective gear.

The Madrid regional government on March 26 activated an emergency plan to deal with Covid-19 and mobilized medical staff, civil protection officers and firefighters to 470 elderly care facilities in the region.

Isabel Diaz Ayuso, president of the Madrid region, said on April 2 that about 3,000 died of various causes in the region’s nursing homes in March. Last week, her administration said 1,065 residents of the

`To see that and know that you can’t do anything is really difficult. One person after another is dying. You want to do everything you can, but the staff just keep getting infected one after another.`

While nursing home staff race against time, the elderly face loneliness during quarantine.

Spain’s Defense Minister revealed last week that soldiers from the Spanish army’s response team, when disinfecting nursing homes, discovered many elderly people left to die in their beds.

Javier Martínez Garcia, 50 years old, has worked as a forest ranger for 14 years.

`We try to be cheerful when we enter a nursing home. We greet everyone because perhaps many elderly people will find it very strange to see us dressed like that. They only see this protective gear

Garcia told his girlfriend about this special mission but did not reveal it to his parents.

The Covid-19 battle in nursing homes

Javier Martínez Garcia, second from the left, and a team of volunteers prepare to disinfect a nursing home in Soria.

After a few days on the mission, Garcia’s initial fear was now gone, replaced by action and a sense of responsibility.

`I guess it’s like fighting a fire: if you’re not used to it, you’ll be nervous because you have to figure out how to handle something you’ve never encountered before. But once you put out the fire, you’ll be calmer and

Luis Encinas is more familiar with situations like this, because he is an infectious disease expert.

`I have certain experience dealing with outbreaks when there are limited human, material and logistical resources,` Encinas said.

However, when having to do similar tasks right in his own homeland, Encinas still felt something strange.

`You want to support your country’s health system, but that’s really strange. It’s a mixed feeling between sadness and the will to help your homeland. We worked in Spain during the crisis.`

No health system in the world is strong enough to deal with this pandemic, he said, adding that Europe and many other developed regions have not seen a crisis on such a scale since

`That means we’ve had many generations grow up peacefully and healthily, making life expectancy increase every year. So now, everyone will be thinking the same thing ‘Oh, how can I

Some of these lessons are humility, planning, and always being prepared.

Maria’s personal plan now is to try to get through each day, prepare to face the next day and keep fear, fatigue and risk of infection as low as possible.

`Last week, I had a bad day where so many people died and no one seemed to care. I was so tired and depressed that when I came back, I said ‘Enough. Mom needs a break.

`If the old men and women there are going to die, they will definitely die. But if I don’t go to work, things will get worse for them. I need to go and do all I can,` daughter

Her daughter’s words helped Maria regain her spirit and decide to continue trying as long as she can.

`One day, an old lady, who hadn’t seen her daughter for two weeks, wanted to hug and kiss me. But I couldn’t because we weren’t allowed to do that. But the old lady still wanted to hold my hand because now we