Spain declares a state of emergency after the number of coronavirus cases surged across the country
- Spain has imposed a near total nationwide shutdown, as it struggles to deal with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Europe.
- The number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to more than 4 200, with at least 120 deaths.
- The Madrid region will also close restaurants, bars, and most shops starting Saturday.
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Spain on Saturday followed Italy and imposed a near total nationwide lockdown to fight the spread of coronavirus by banning people from leaving home except to go to work, get medical care or buy food, AFP reported.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced the restrictions on movement following a huge spike in the number of infections in this nation of some 46 million people.
"The government of Spain will protect all its citizens and will guarantee the right life conditions to slow the pandemic with as little inconvenience as possible," Sanchez said.
The state of emergency will last at least 15 days and give the government wide-ranging powers, including the ability to confine people and order evacuations, Reuters reported. The military will also be mobilised, Sanchez said.
The number of cases and deaths in Spain make it the second-worst outbreak in Europe after Italy.
Schools and other public spaces have already been closed across Spain.
The Madrid region will also close restaurants, bars, and most shops - except for supermarkets and pharmacies - starting Saturday, Reuters reported, citing Spanish media.
The UK Foreign Office on Friday advised citizens against travelling to Madrid and the surrounding regions.
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