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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 28 May, 2020
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Spain to shut land borders to halt spread of coronavirus

Spain has become the fourth most virus-infected country in the world.

A woman wearing protective mask walks past a graffiti message reading 'Expropriate the private (hospitals and clinics)' inside a train in Barcelona, Spain.
A woman wearing protective mask walks past a graffiti message reading 'Expropriate the private (hospitals and clinics)' inside a train in Barcelona, Spain.
Image: Joan Mateu/PA Images

SPAIN HAS ANNOUNCED it will close its land borders to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

In a statement this afternoon, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said the closure would come into effect at midnight, with only Spanish citizens, residents or accredited diplomatic personnel allowed in, and any cases of force majeure. 

The country earlier announced a package of measures introduced as part of a 15-day state of alert officially declared by the government.

Spain has become the fourth most virus-infected country in the world, surpassing South Korea, following a sharp rise in cases.

Coronavirus cases in Spain rose by roughly 1,000 in 24 hours to 8,744 today, and the number of fatalities reached 297.

Portugal and Spain have already agreed to halt tourism across their shared border. Goods and workers will still be allowed in and out. About half of the deaths have been in the capital, Madrid.

Earlier today, the President of the European Commission announced proposals to introduce temporary 30-day restriction on non-essential travel to the EU. 

Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement in a bid to reduce the pressure on the healthcare systems of EU member states and could come into effect once EU member states agree.  

“Our healthcare system is under huge pressure, therefore member states have taken strong measures to slow down the spread of the virus. These measures are effective only when they are coordinated and this is why we present today guidelines on border measures,” she said.

“We need to protect people from the spread of the virus and at the same time we need to make sure that we maintain the flow of goods. It is vital to keep the mobility sector going to ensure economic continuity. 

“We need to do more to reduce the pressure on our healthcare system. Here in Europe we are heavily affected by the virus… the less travel the more we can contain the virus. Therefore, as I have just informed our g7 partners, I propose to heads of states and government, to introduce temporary restoration on non-essential travel to Europe.” 

© – AFP 2020

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