Spain, France announce shutdown as Spanish PM & wife test positive to COVID-19
London, March 15, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Spain and France, two of the EU’s biggest states have followed Italy in announcing emergency shutdown to combat the spread of the COVID-19 otherwise known as coronavirus.
Spain ran into trouble on Saturday when over 1500 new infections were announced and now people are banned from leaving home except for buying essential supplies and medicines, or for work.
Spain, which has a population of 46.7 million, has recorded more than 6,300 infections.
At midday in Italy people applauded from their windows/balconies to show their gratitude to everyone working in the hospitals and as a sign of encouragement to everyone 🇮🇹 ❤️💪 #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/E6uptBwoyN— Daniella Matar (@DaniellaMatar) March 14, 2020
Late on Saturday, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s wife Begoña Gómez tested positive for the virus, the government confirmed.
All museums, cultural centres and sports venues will be closed. Restaurants and cafes may only do home deliveries.
Essential services like banks and petrol stations are not affected by the shutdown and will remain open. Schools are already shut across the country.
On Saturday, Mr Sánchez appealed for unity, calling on all regions to put ideological differences aside and put citizens first.
“I want to tell the workers, the self-employed and businesses that the government of Spain is going to do everything in its power to cushion the effects of this crisis,” he said.
With 191 deaths, Spain is Europe’s worst-hit country after Italy.
In France, where 91 people have died, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and most shops are now shut.
France, a country of 63.5 million people, has reported more than 4,400 confirmed cases.
Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said the number of people in France in intensive care was growing and earlier guidelines for the public were being ignored.
The closure – which went into force at 23:00 GMT on Saturday – applies to restaurants, cafes, cinemas and nightclubs as well as non-essential businesses.
It will not, Mr Philippe said, affect essential businesses which he listed as food shops, chemists, banks, tobacco shops and petrol stations.
Schools in France will be closed as of Monday until further notice.
France reported a sharp rise in cases on Saturday, from 3,661 to 4,499. It recorded 12 more deaths, bringing the toll to 79.
The BBC’s Paris correspondent, Hugh Schofield, says the measures amount to a dramatic ratcheting-up of the French response, reflecting growing alarm at the fast spread of the virus.
Italy, which has recorded more than 1,440 deaths, began a nationwide lockdown on Monday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says Europe is now the “epicentre” of the pandemic.
WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilisation and social distancing to save lives