Spain, which currently has the 5th largest number of coronavirus cases at over 6k has imposed a near total lockdown in the country.
The Independent reports the Spanish government is to put the country under lockdown as part of its state of emergency measures meant to combat coronavirus.
According to a draft decree, Spaniards will be ordered to stay at home except to buy food or drugs, go to the hospital, go to work or other emergencies.
El Mundo reports Spain’s interior ministry will control all police forces, including local and regional ones, as part of the state of emergency.
The government said the cabinet meeting that is due to decide on the measures was still ongoing. A news conference is expected around 2pm.
The development came as flights destined for Spain from the UK were forced to turn back mid-air on Saturday due to the health crisis.
Though Jet2 made the announcement it was cancelling all flights before Spain implemented the nationwide measure, the decision was made in light of a sharp rise in infections there and the declaration earlier this week of a state of emergency.
Health authorities in Spain said on Saturday coronavirus infections have reached 5,753 people, half of them in the capital, Madrid. That represents a national increase of over 1,500 in 24 hours.
Prime minister Pedro Sanchez acknowledged on Friday that the number of infections could reach 10,000 in the coming days.
Spain has followed Italy’s path in implementing a similar lockdown after both European countries failed to contain the virus in regional hotspots.
Italy extended the strict restriction on movement from the north to the entire country on 9 March when it registered over 9,000 infections. It then went further on 11 March and closed all retail outlets except some supermarkets and pharmacies.
Already in Spain, residents in Madrid and northeast Catalonia awoke Saturday to shuttered bars and restaurants and other non-essential commercial outlets as ordered by regional authorities the day before.
Spain’s decision came as other European countries took ever more severe, though widely varying, measures to reduce contact between their citizens and slow the pandemic. China — where the virus first emerged late last year — continued to ease up lockdown measures in its hardest-hit region.