Spain's Catalonia places 200,000 people back into lockdown following rise in COVID-19 cases

Source:Xinhua Published: 2020/7/5 10:27:22

Volunteers prepare food packages for people in need in Barcelona, Spain, June 25, 2020. (City Hall of Barcelona/Handout via Xinhua)

The Catalan regional government on Saturday decided to re-impose a lockdown that will affect over 200,000 people in and around the city of Lleida, northeast Spain due to a localized rise in COVID-19 cases.

This is the first such measure to be introduced since Spain ended its State of Alarm allowing the return of free movement around the country on June 21.

Regional leader Quim Torra explained that the decision has been made after a "considerable increase" in the number of coronavirus cases in the Segria region, which covers Lleida, its capital, and the surrounding area of 38 municipalities.

Almost 350 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the Segria region over the past week, many of them among temporary fruit pickers, and a temporary field hospital has been set up in Lleida.

The lockdown will last for an initial period of 15 days. Miquel Buch, head of the Catalan interior department, has confirmed an end to free movement "from 12:00 hours on July 4, 2020 till a new resolution is adopted."

Only those who have to move for "force majeure" and work purposes, such as the provision of services, commerce, and business activities, will be allowed to go out. The Catalan authority has also prohibited meetings of more than 10 people and recommended that older residents remain indoors.

People stroll along the famous Ramblas of Barcelona in Spain, June 25, 2020. (City Hall of Barcelona/Handout via Xinhua)

Around 200 members of the Catalan regional police force (Mossos d'Esquadra) will be deployed at various points to enforce the lockdown.

Catalonia is the second region in Spain hardest hit by the coronavirus. The Spanish Ministry of Health confirmed on Friday that out of 62,057 infections in the region, 834 were diagnosed in the last seven days, and 5,673 people have succumbed to COVID-19.  

Posted in: EUROPE

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