Spain allocates record 200 billion euros to coronavirus fight

Madrid, Mar 17 (EFE).- Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Tuesday announced emergency economic measures totalling 200 billion euros ($219bn), roughly 20 percent of the nation’s GDP, to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Socialist Party leader described the amount as the “biggest mobilization of economic resources in the country’s democratic history.”

Addressing the nation after the cabinet approved an ample package of economic and social measures designed to soften the blow of the outbreak on the population, Sanchez said 117 billion euros would come from the public purse while the rest would come from private funds.

“This is an enormous and decisive effort that corresponds to the magnitude of the socio-economic challenge we are facing,” he said. “We will not leave anyone behind, especially those who will need more protection.”

The coalition government approved a moratorium on mortgage payments for vulnerable families whose members lose jobs or are placed on temporary unpaid leave because of the Covid-19 outbreak, and agreed to suspend evictions for those unable to pay rent.

Sanchez said those whose contracts are temporarily suspended during the outbreak would be able to claim state benefits whether or not they would have qualified under normal regulations.

He urged companies to provide flexible working hours rather than fire employees during the emergency period and said self-employed workers who have lost income because of the health crisis would have quick access to loans.

Spain’s airline and automotive industry have warned of serious economic damage because of the pandemic.

The new economic measures come three days after the PM declared a state of alarm in Spain and locked down the entire country, ordering people to quarantine at home.

On Tuesday, Sanchez clarified that people were only allowed to leave their houses individually to buy basic necessities like food, medicine, attend doctor’s appointments or tend to relatives who are dependent on outside help.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Spain jumped by almost 2,000 in the last 24 hours to bring the total number detected since the outbreak began to 11,178, according to the health ministry.

At least 491 people have died from the disease and 1,098 have recovered, meaning the number of active cases sits at around 9,659, although Fernando Simon, the head of the country’s emergency health department, warned that figures are expected to rise in the coming days.

Simon said that medical workers on the frontlines of the crisis would be compensated for their efforts in the future.

At least 455 health workers have contracted Covid-19, which has overloaded the country’s universal healthcare system.

“The effort they are making is recognized by everyone and has to be recognized in all necessary ways,” he told a press briefing Tuesday.

Some 4,871 cases are in the capital region of Madrid, where the mortality rate is above 7 percent, something Simon said could be attributed to the fact that the first wave of the outbreak swept through care homes and affected older people in particular.

Elsewhere in the country, the mortality rate sits around 4 percent.

Madrid is followed by the northeastern region of Catalonia, which has registered 1,394 cases and whose regional president, Quim Torra, on Monday announced he had tested positive for the virus.

The Basque Country has registered 765 cases, Andalusia 683, Catilla-La Mancha 567, Castile and Leon 541, La Rioja 355 and Navarra 333. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button