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Coronavirus: Spain to go in 15-day lockdown next week, authorities announce 'state of alarm'

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday (local time) announced that Spain will remain in lockdown for 15 days from early next week in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus cases that spiraled to nearly 6000 with over 190 deaths.

ANI | Madrid | Updated: 15-03-2020 11:57 IST | Created: 15-03-2020 11:57 IST
Coronavirus: Spain to go in 15-day lockdown next week, authorities announce 'state of alarm'
Women wear protective face masks as they walk through an empty Plaza de Catalunya, amidst concerns over coronavirus outbreak, in Barcelona. Image Credit: ANI

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday (local time) announced that Spain will remain in lockdown for 15 days from early next week in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus cases that spiraled to nearly 6000 with over 190 deaths. Raising a "state of alarm" in the country, the prime minister stated that the Italian-styled lockdown would begin from 8 a.m. on Monday morning (local time), Al Jazeera reported.

The development was announced in an address at 9:00 p.m. (local time), following an emergency cabinet meeting to agree on further measures against the virus. He said the measures were taken to combat "a worldwide pandemic, and a social and health crisis."

The lockdown closes bars, restaurants, cinemas, theaters, and museums all over Spain, as well as all shops, expect pharmacies, food stores and those selling "essential" goods for at least 15 days. The government has also placed severe restrictions on citizens from making any journey, except for a small number of exceptions. These exceptions allow journeys to buy food, pharmaceuticals and essential items, visits to healthcare centers, journeys to work and others such as walking the dog, return journeys and trips for people who have to provide care to minors, the elderly and vulnerable.

Spain's armed forces will also be mobilized in order to ensure these measures are respected and to help assure food and medical supplies, with the central government taking control of security, health, and transport from the country's 17 autonomous communities and reserving the right to take control of key strategic industries. "We are going to give a united answer with the Government of Spain leading the rest of the Administrations to give a united solution," said Sanchez.

Other measures approved by the government see the closure of schools and colleges, while obliging companies to make it possible for people to continue working from home wherever feasible. Meanwhile, public transport is to be reduced by "at least" 50 per cent for intercity trains, buses and also ferry services, with transport operators obliged to clean their vehicles on a daily basis.

"The measures we are going to adopt are drastic and will have consequences," advised the prime minister, adding that they would be "added to others we will develop in the coming days and weeks and those which are already activated." The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that Europe has become the new 'epicentre' of the global coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 15 lakh people with over 4000 deaths. (ANI)


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