The Minister of the Presidency and government spokesperson, Meritxell Budó; the Minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Buch; the Minister of Health, Alba Vergés; and the Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Families, Chakir el Homrani, gave a press briefing today to provide an update on the coronavirus outbreak and report on measures being taken by the Catalan government.
The total lockdown ordered by the central government ends tomorrow (Thursday). Spokesperson Budó decried a lack of clarity from Madrid about what will happen next week: “Will the lifting of the lockdown measures be gradual or not? Under what conditions will employees have to return to work? What sectors will be able to resume their activity, and which won’t?”
Minister Budó said: “If the lockdown is lifted now in a poorly planned way, this step could be the prelude to a second total lockdown. And that would be a disaster.” She stressed the need for a cautious approach: “Although the number of new cases continues to fall, the number of infectious cases remains high. Epidemiologists are telling us the full lockdown should be maintained and that the situation should be monitored to decide when is the right time to lift it.”
Budó reiterated that the Catalan government “is working on a plan to lift the lockdown in the best way possible, with optimal health, social and economic safeguards in place”. The minister announced that the Catalan government will therefore call on the central government to extend the total lockdown.
Support for third-sector environmental organisations
The Catalan government, through the Ministry of Territory and Sustainability, has activated a new line of grants to provide €600,000 in direct support to third-sector associations and foundations adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Update from the Minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Buch
- The technical committee responsible for the Civil Protection Plan for Catalonia (PROCICAT) has recommended that the total lockdown of Catalonia be maintained. This decision will be communicated to the Spanish government
- “All the sacrifices we’ve made may be for nothing if we’re not able to sustain the lockdown, stop the spread of the disease, and prevent the collapse of the health system.”
- “If the central government doesn’t heed our requests, which are aimed at protecting the health of Catalans, we’ll have to take decisions accordingly. The Catalan government will continue working to tackle Covid-19.”
Update from the Minister of Health, Alba Vergés
- The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Families have been working together and making every effort to protect and care for the elderly, particularly care home residents, who are especially vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.
- Thousands of serological tests will be distributed to all primary care centres starting today (Wednesday). These tests will allow for the identification of positive Covid-19 cases. Many will be used to test health workers and care home residents. Testing will make it possible to quickly identify and treat infected individuals.
- Dr Yolanda Lejardi, primary care director of the Catalan Health Institute, has been appointed to implement and manage the plan for tackling the Covid-19 outbreak in care homes.
- The measures being applied are working and have resulted in “some degree of containment” in Catalonia. However, it is essential to remain vigilant to prevent a resurgence of the outbreak.
- Measures will continue to be taken to increase the capacity of the health system (e.g. by tripling the number of ICU beds to over 2,000). “A total lockdown remains the most effective measure for combating Covid-19.”
Update from the Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Families, Chakir el Homrani
- The Catalan government has decided to reorient the emergency action plan for care homes to prioritise health-related criteria in the provision of care for residents. The Ministry of Health will now take the lead in tackling the coronavirus outbreak in care homes. The two ministries will work together to implement the action plan.
- The services that provide care for women victims of gender-based violence and their children are continuing to provide assistance to those affected by this issue during the lockdown period.