Catalan government provides €80m to fight coronavirus
Authorities aim to make public transport free during crisis and will ask Madrid to remove toll charges on motorways
The Catalan government estimates that the costs of fighting the coronavirus pandemic will come to at least 1.8 billion euros, and on Tuesday approved an initial payment of 80 million euros to the health department to cover emergency expenses.
In announcing the measure following Tuesday's cabinet meeting, government spokeswoman Meritxell Budó was also critical of the Spanish government for only contributing 50 million euros to combating the spread of the virus in Catalonia.
The 80 million euros released will come from the budget's contingency fund, leaving 82 million to fund any further emergencies, leading Budó to call for "responsibility" from Catalonia's political parties in approving the 2020 budget in parliament.
Budó also said that public transport under the control of the Catalan authorities will be free during the crisis, and said the government will ask the Barcelona transport authority to follow suit and will propose that the state authorities remove motorway toll charges.
With the Spanish cabinet approving a moratorium on the monthly fee paid by self-employed workers, Budó regretted that "a government that calls itself progressive" could have levied this month's fee and said she hoped the money would be returned "with the same celerity."
47,000 covid-19 tests carried out so far
Meanwhile, health minister Alba Vergés explained that 47,000 coronavirus tests had been carried out in Catalonia, 42% on men and 58% on women, with 33% done on people between 40 and 60, 33% on those between 60 and 80, and 26% on those over 80.
The health minister also said that the number of people given the all-clear after recovering from coronavirus now numbered some 5,000, while another 1,552 people remain in a serious state due to the disease.
Vergés added that "we are beginning to see that the confinement measures are starting to produce results," and that her department is to set up two temporary hospitals, one in at 'Fira Salut' in Barcelona's exhibition center and 'Vallès Salut' in Sabadell.
When asked about the shortage of medical equipment and determining what treatment patients receive, she said that "clinical criteria prevail above all else."