Lleida and rest of Segrià county under lockdown again from midday Saturday
President Torra announces decision due to increase in Covid-19 cases after meeting with Civil Protection and key ministers
The western Catalan city of Lleida and the rest of Segrià county will be under lockdown from midday on Saturday, July 4 as a result of the increase of Covid-19 cases detected in the area.
This was announced by Catalan president Quim Torra on Saturday morning following a meeting with Civil Protection (Procicat), vice president Pere Aragonès, as well as health minister Alba Vergés, interior minister Miquel Buch, and spokesperson Meritxell Budó.
"We are taking a step back to protect ourselves and control the outbreak," said Torra, who also described the measure as a "difficult decision."
Miquel Buch, the Catalan interior minister, explained that while the measure will come into effect at 12 pm, people who are currently in Segrià county but who do not live there will be allowed to leave the area by 4 pm and advised residents to not travel between towns in the county.
People who live in Segrià but are not currently there will be allowed to return by 4 pm, although exceptions will be made for people who are returning from work elsewhere or force majeure.
Segrià county, home to a sizable number of slaughterhouses and agricultural firms, has experienced a much higher increase in Covid-19 cases compared to the rest of Catalonia over the past week.
Health minister Alba Vergés explained that on June 22, Lleida's main hospital had 6 Covid-19 patients in regular rooms and 4 in the ICU, but that yesterday the figures were 21 in regular rooms and 6 in the ICU.
While highlighting the importance of social distancing, the use of face masks and washing hands, Vergés also advised at-risk groups to stay home unless absolutely essential and said that set groups of residents and workers would be established at care homes to keep the elderly safe.
Although people are not being ordered to stay home, Vergés asked Lleida to "slow down" and to reduce activity while also confirming that only groups of up to 10 people will be allowed to meet up.
This lockdown announcement comes only a day after a field hospital was preemptively set up outside Lleida's Hospital Arnau de Vilanova despite the health department claiming it was not considering new confinement measures in the area.
Lleida hospital Covid-19 ward full
The floor in Lleida's Arnau de Vilanova hospital that is being used for Covid-19 patients is full, according to doctor José Luis Morales-Rull, who in an interview on Saturday morning with Catalunya Ràdio explained that another hospital space will have to be set up to treat coronavirus patients.
According to Morales-Rull, the field hospital that was set up yesterday is meant to be used as a waiting room for people that will be tested for the virus and to avoid having them get close to patients that are at the hospital for other reasons.
On Saturday the Catalan health department confirmed there had been another 155 diagnoses in the Lleida health region in the past day, up from the 60 that had been announced on Friday. In total, there are currently 3,706 Covid-19 cases in the health region, of which 599 are at care homes.