The government has announced the lockdown of four central Catalan towns, due to the coronavirus outbreak, starting at 00:00 on Friday, March 13. From midnight on Thursday no one apart from the emergency services is allowed to enter or leave the towns of Igualada, Vilanova del Camí, Santa Margarida de Montbui and Òdena.

In a press conference on Thursday evening, the interior minister announced residents of these four central Catalonia towns won’t be able to leave their municipality. “We recommend that citizens stay at home,” said Miquel Buch.

Health minister Alba Vergés explained that the action was not being taken lightly: “If we take this measure it is because we are absolutely sure that it is necessary. Basic services need to work as normally as possible within this extreme measure.” Vergés, an Igualada resident, was clearly emotional while explaining the decision and she wished her family well.

Empty streets

According to 2019 figures from the Catalan Statistics Institute, the area in lockdown has a total population of 66048. On Thursday morning, the central Catalan city of Igualada awoke to empty streets on after Wednesday’s discovery of a coronavirus cluster at the local hospital.

Health secretary Joan Guix announced on Thursday afternoon that there were 49 people who had tested positive, including 33 medical professionals, and 3 people had died of the disease. Minister Vergés increased the figure of people infected to 58 on Thursday night.

The lockdown is one of several measures from authorities aimed at managing the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak.

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