Spain’s health minister has described a second wave of the coronavirus sweeping the county as “out of control” as the Government considers whether to follow France and other European countries in imposing curfews.
- Several regional governments have asked the Central Government to implement curfews
- A two-week partial lockdown of the Madrid region is due to end this weekend
- The Central Government survived a vote of no-confidence put up by a far-right party over its handling of the pandemic
This week Spain became the first Western European country to record 1 million COVID-19 cases and the nation’s death toll stands at about 35,000 people.
“Not to take these measures would be irresponsible,” said Francisco Igea, deputy leader of the Castilla and Leon region, which formally requested the central Government decide on a curfew.
“The lives of tens of thousands of people are at stake,” he told a news conference on Thursday (local time).
Castilla la Mancha’s health chief was expected to request a nationwide curfew at a video meeting between Health Minister Salvador Illa and Spanish regions later on Thursday, a source with the regional Government told Reuters.
The Valencia region was also set to request curfew measures, El Pais newspaper reported, but a health ministry source told Reuters it was not yet clear if enough regions would take that stance for a decision to be made on Thursday.
With a two-week partial lockdown of Madrid and surrounding cities coming to an end on Saturday and the contagion rates growing across much of Spain, more needs to be done, Mr Illa said, calling earlier on Thursday for “drastic” measures.
Between March and June, Spaniards lived under severe restrictions, with many virtually confined to their homes, but life had begun to return to normal in most regions as the first wave of the pandemic eased.
“The horizon we have been discussing with technicians from the ministry and European colleagues is of five to six very hard months.”
While daily deaths have been hovering around 100 — a far cry from the peak of nearly 900 registered in late March — hospital admissions have jumped 20 per cent in two weeks, triggering warnings that some non-urgent surgeries may need to be postponed.
Central Government survives vote of no-confidence
Meanwhile, Spain’s centre-right opposition rejected a far-right proposal for a vote of no-confidence in the Socialist Government on Thursday, a move which Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez seized on to propose a political deal over judicial reform.
The ultranationalist party Vox was the only party to back the no-confidence motion over the minority leftist Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and it was easily defeated.
The main opposition People’s Party’s (PP) decision to vote against it rather than abstain was seen as a gesture by the party’s leader, Pablo Casado, to distance them from Vox and present himself as a more moderate figure.
Vox rose from obscurity to become the third-largest group in Parliament, and shares power with the PP in some regional and municipal governments. But the centre-right PP has been at pains to distance itself from the far right at the national level.
The Central Government has frequently clashed with regional authorities and with Casado over coronavirus measures, and some experts say those political quarrels have hampered the fight against the pandemic.