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Spain denies having allowed Catalonia to use health regions for lockdown de-escalation

Spanish health ministry says "nothing has been confirmed" after speaking to Catalan health minister

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03 May 2020 08:08 PM

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ACN|Barcelona

Spain has not yet determined whether it will allow Catalonia to use health regions rather than provinces for lockdown de-escalation purposes, despite a Catalan health department announcement to the contrary on Sunday after a phone call between Spanish health minister Salvador Illa and Catalan health minister Alba Vergés.

The Spanish health ministry maintains that, as of yet, "nothing has been confirmed," but that it will "study proposals" that have been put forward, while the Catalan health department, on the other hand, claims that during the course of their exchange it was agreed that data and confinement easing proposals would be sent per health region rather than per province before then going on to discuss other pertinent matters.

Health department sources have told the Catalan News Agency that the Spanish government does not have the Covid-19 data required to determine de-escalation phase progression as they must be sent from Catalonia, adding that it would be "impossible" to loosen confinement per provinces with information from health regions.

These sources insisted that the Catalan government will send the health ministry its proposals as well as data from health regions, which they say the Spanish minister acceded to over the phone, because having the equivalent information per province is "very complicated."

Provinces v. health region controversy

After Spanish president Pedro Sánchez announced a 4-phase plan to loosen lockdown in the country last Tuesday, he received criticism from the Catalan government, who did not agree with relaxing rules per province as they can be quite large and diverse and are not used as units by the Catalan health system.

In Catalonia, for example, the province of Barcelona includes both the populous Catalan capital as well as small Pyrenean towns, for which the Catalan executive argued that assessing pandemic progression per province before allowing them to move into the next de-escalation phase would be unfair.

If eventually granted the Spanish government's approval, Catalonia would be able to de-escalate confinement regulations according to measured progress in the nine health regions: Terres de l'Ebre, Tarragona, the city of Barcelona, the northern metropolitan area, the southern metropolitan area, central Catalonia, Lleida, Alt Pirineu and Aran, and Girona.

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  • Catalan health minister Alba Vergés addresses the public during the coronavirus crisis, March 2020 (by Departament de Salut)

  • Catalan health minister Alba Vergés addresses the public during the coronavirus crisis, March 2020 (by Departament de Salut)

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