A new lockdown has been ordered for 200,000 people in the Lleida province in northeastern Spain on Saturday, July 4th, due to outbreaks of Coronavirus in the region. This is the first confinement order in the country since the state of emergency was lifted on June 21st, after it was placed in early March.
Starting at noon on Saturday, perimeter controls including police checkpoints have been implemented, preventing movement in and out of the Segrià region, this excludes work and care for people with special needs, according to two Catalan government spokesmen. Gatherings of ten or more people are also prohibited in both public and private settings. The order is indefinite and is in response to data “[confirming] significant growth in the number of [COVID-19] cases,” in the region, according to Catalan Regional President Quim Torra.
For a few weeks, medical personnel have been trying to control various outbreaks in the county, including seasonal farm workers, a senior care facility, and a small hotel that cares for the homeless.
On Friday, July 3rd, a field hospital was set up outside of the Lleida’s Arnau de Villanova Hospital in the city of Lleida, according to the BBC, with the capacity to treat up to 105 additional patients if necessary. There are currently 21 persons reportedly being treated in local hospitals, of which six currently require intensive care treatment.
There were at least 72,860 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 12,586 deaths tied to or believed to have resulted from the virus in the region, according to a report released by the Catalan News Agency, a government-owned agency.
Quim Torra expanded, saying that, “We take a step back to protect ourselves and we will take all the decisions to stop the contagion,” according to The Independent.
Although this new outbreak is saddening, the speedy response to the outbreaks in the region is incredibly heartening. It is clear that the government has learned from its past experiences with COVID-19, quickly ruling out individual and selective confinement, and is instead choosing to confine the entire region in order to quickly contain the virus. Although outbreaks have already occurred throughout the region, these decisions will hopefully allow for fewer to none to occur moving forward, and will push the nation and the region towards a safer future.
After three months of lockdown, giving control over quarantine orders to the various regions of Spain seems to have been a good idea. Although outbreaks have been occurring, they are minor; Segrià county has been the largest yet, and a second local lockdown has already begun in Galicia on Sunday, July 5th. Now that the largest part of the pandemic has been controlled, it seems that the government is wise to leave controlling the smaller outbreaks up to the various regions, as they are locking down quickly and effectively.
Throughout the pandemic, Spain has numbered more than 250,000 cases and 28,000 deaths, and is one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe. However, nationwide confinement helped to slow the virus’s path through Spain, allowing the nation to lift the order on June 21st. Even so, there have been around 50 outbreaks since. However, none have been so terrible as in Segrià county, leading to this new lockdown.
Spain has been hit incredibly hard by the Coronavirus pandemic, but it must also find a way to move on from this tragedy. Sara Canals, a journalist, told the BBC that “Some might consider [this] maybe too drastic, but there’s a willingness here to find a right balance reopening the economy but also to ensure safety.” These quick but localized responses bode well for the country, and tell us that no matter how bad things look now, there are ways to handle this virus that don’t mean giving up life as it is now.