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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced further measures in a bid to stop the spread of the Covid-19 disease across the country and reduce the alarming congestion at the country's hospitals. Subject to approval from the Cabinet who are meeting today, from the new rules will mean that from tomorrow Monday 30th March until Thursday 9th April, all those working in non-essential sectors will be obliged to remain confined at home. Sanchez explained that "this measure will reduce the mobility of people even further, it will reduce the risk of infection and allow us to decongest the ICUs (Intensive Care Units)."

Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Health announced that the number of confirmed cases has risen to 72,248, a daily rise of 8,189, with the total number of deaths reaching 5,690, up 832 on Friday. The majority of cases have been in the Madrid and Catalan regions where almost 50% of the total cases have been recorded . In the Comunidad Valenciana, the total number of confirmed cases rose just over 500 to 4,034 with the number of deaths reaching 234, a rise of 36. The total number of patients in ICUs across the region is 282. On a more positive note, the gap between new infections and new recoveries narrowed. But the statistics show that the curve is yet to flatten and the peak of infections has still not been reached.

The current state of alarm was declared on March 15th, closing bars and restaurants as well as confining people to their homes except for essential journeys such as to buy food and medication as well as travel to and from work if it couldn't be done at home. Earlier this week, Congress approved an extension to Sunday 12th April, effectively cancelling the traditional 'Semana Santa' celebrations. The new measures announced on Saturday will now restrict the movement of the population even further with only those working in essential sectors allowed to continue working; food production and distribution, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, vets, opticians, hygiene products, the press, the fuel industry, tobacconists, IT and telecommunications, pet food, Internet providers and dry cleaners. Banks will remain open whilst mechanics can continue offer a service to the freight sector, essential to the movement of goods and products across the country, but will not be open to the general public. The construction sector and industries not producing essentials such as medicine and food will also be obliged to cease activity and its workforce to remain at home. The objective is to reduce further the number of people on the streets and slow down the spread of infection.

The Prime Minister assured the workforce that they would continue to be paid as usual by their employers on the proviso that, once the health crisis has passed, they will be required to recover the hours missed on a gradual basis over time, such as working an extra hour a day until the lost hours have been recuperated. Those who work from home will continue to do so as before.

Sanchéz has also called on the European Union to fight the financial consequences of the crisis together. "The response cannot be national, it has to be European and with all resources at the most critical time for the EU since its foundation, when we all need to work together, whether we are Dutch, Spanish or German. Europe is taking a risk, and it cannot fail because even the countries and governments that are most pro-EU, as is the case with Spain, need proof of real commitment. Spaniards have always backed the strengthening of the common project. Now it is Europe's turn." He added that: "Europe should put a type of war economy into motion and promote resistance. And then European reconstruction and recovery. It has to do it as soon as possible with measures that back the public debt that many member states are taking on. And it will have to do so afterwards, once the health emergency is over, to reconstruct the economies on the continent, by mobilizing a large amount of resources via a plan that we have called a new Marshall Plan, and which will have to count on the backing of all the common institutions."

Source: Original
Date: Sunday 29th March 2020





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