Spain counts 1,500 new COVID-19 cases in one day

Spain counts 1,500 new COVID-19 cases in one day

Elderly woman wears a protective face mask as she carries a bag with food products in Barcelona
An elderly woman wears a protective face mask as she carries a bag with food products, amidst concerns over Spain's coronavirus outbreak, in Barcelona, Spain March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

MADRID: Spain confirmed more than 1,500 new cases of coronavirus between Friday (Mar 13) and Saturday (Mar 14) raising its total to 5,753 cases, the second-highest number in Europe after Italy. 

The country was expected to declare a state of emergency on Saturday to try to mobilise resources to combat the virus, which has so far killed 136 people in Spain.

Local media reported on Saturday the Spanish government is to put the country under lockdown as part of its state of emergency measures meant to combat the coronavirus.

The government will say all Spaniards must stay home except to buy food or drugs, go to the hospital, go to work or other emergencies, El Mundo reported.

READ: Europe now 'epicentre' of COVID-19 pandemic: WHO

The paper reports Spain's Interior Ministry will control all police forces, including local and regional ones, as part of the state of emergency.

The government said the Cabinet meeting that is due to decide on the measures was still ongoing. A news conference is expected around 1400 GMT.

On Friday said the government would adopt a series of extraordinary measures in order "to mobilise all the resources of state to better protect the health of all of its citizens".

Explore: Real-time interactive map of all the confirmed cases reported around the world

The number of cases in Spain has increased tenfold since Sunday, and bars, restaurants and all sporting and cultural institutions have been closed.

The Madrid region, which is the country's worst-hit with nearly 3,000 cases, has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses.

READ: Spain steps up anti-coronavirus plan to 'avoid Italian scenario'

Spain recently shut down schools in several regions, suspended flights from Italy and closed the lower house of parliament for at least a week after a lawmaker tested positive for the coronavirus, in the hope of stemming a growing outbreak.

"We are working on avoiding the Italian scenario," Health Minister Salvador Illa told reporters. 

"With these measures we believe that we can avoid it. And if we have to take additional measures, we will take them."​​​​​​​

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Source: AFP/Reuters/aa

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