The Minister of the Presidency and government spokesperson, Meritxell Budó; the Minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Buch; and the director of the Public Health Agency, Xavier Llebaria appeared at a press conference this evening to update the public on the coronavirus outbreak.
In view of the exceptional circumstances, Minister Budó expressed “surprise” at the Spanish government’s slow response, “particularly bearing in mind that every minute that passes is a minute that could have been spent fighting the coronavirus”. Budó said: “As President Torra made clear yesterday, the Catalan government is ready to collaborate and work with any administration.” But she also warned: “We won’t allow our competencies to be infringed, particularly when the Spanish government is reacting late and badly.”
“The state of emergency announced yesterday, for which no details have yet been provided, should provide a framework for us to coordinate and take immediate action. But it shouldn’t be used by the state to take control of the Catalan government’s security, health and transport services,” said Budó, in reference to a draft resolution of the Council of Ministers leaked to the media.
This concern over the “confiscation of competencies” that rightly belong to Catalonia and the Basque Country was the subject of a conversation today between President Torra and Basque President Iñigo Urkullu.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Buch, said: “We can guarantee the supply of food and basic goods for everyday life.” The minister confirmed that mobility has been reduced by 50% and thanked the public for “the effort they’re making”. He also stressed the importance of everyone staying home so that the Catalan government’s objectives – “to prevent the spread of the virus and the collapse of our health system” – can be achieved.
Dr Xavier Llebaria, the director of the Public Health Agency, provided an update on the evolution of COVID-19 in Catalonia. Dr Llebaria said 70 people had tested positive for coronavirus in Conca d’Òdena and Igualada and three had died as a result of that outbreak. “As of early this afternoon, there are another 206 cases in Catalonia as a whole. With these new cases, a total of 715 people have now tested positive for coronavirus in Catalonia, and there have been a total of eight deaths, including the two reported in the last 24 hours. We’re working intensively with contacts who are now isolated and focusing on 2100 contacts related to affected individuals.”
Dr Llebaria said it was essential for the public to understand the seriousness of the situation and heed calls to reduce mobility and stay at home. He also said citizens should take notice of warnings and instructions issued by health and public authorities to contain the advance of the virus.