Four towns in Spain’s northeastern autonomous region of Catalonia have been put under quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 66,000 inhabitants of the localities of Igualada, Odena, Santa Margarida de Montbui and Vilanova del Cami “cannot leave their urban core” although they can leave their homes, the civil protection agency said in a statement on Thursday, citing instructions from Catalonia’s governor.
Catalonia’s Health Minister Alba Verges told reporters that authorities would be focussing on Igualada, a town of 40,000 inhabitants which is only 70km (40 miles) from the regional capital Barcelona, as the number of cases was growing rapidly.
There are currently 58 cases in Igualada, 38 more than on Wednesday, he added.
Spain reported more than 3,000 cases as of Friday, with 84 deaths as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
As the European Union strives to deal with the pandemic, Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, has told its 60 million population to “stay at home” until April 3, allowing travel only for the most urgent work or health reasons.
The government in Rome has also ordered all shops considered non-essential to be shut down across the country.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday that schools in France would close indefinitely to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and urged people aged above 70 and the infirm to stay home.
Since the coronavirus first emerged in late December 2019, more than 125,000 cases have been recorded in scores of countries and territories across the world, killing more than 4,600 people.
The worst affected countries are mainland China with some 80,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths. Italy follows with approximately 15,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths.