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The Catalan government is demanding to know what use is intended for the medical material that Spanish authorities, through the police, are requisitioning under the state of alarm on coronavirus, and how it will be distributed. "Alarmism is being generated by these measures, and given this alarmist situation, information must be supplied," said the Catalan presidency minister, Meritxell Budó, in the Catalan executive's press conference today, along with Catalan health minister, Alba Vergés, and interior minister, Miquel Buch.

Catalonia's government called for explanations from the Spanish executive after the mayor of the coronavirus-struck city of Igualada reported that 4,000 medical masks, which had been ordered by the Igualada Hospital and were ready to be sent, had been held up in Madrid. "We have been told they are now waiting for some approval or inspector to allow them to be sent", said Marc Castells, mayor of the Catalan city which was placed in lockdown last Thursday after a serious community outbreak was detected affecting the large Igualada public hospital .   

Minister Budó stated that "medical equipment destined for Catalan hospitals is being requisitioned" and called for an explanation from the Spanish health minister, Salvador Illa. "He needs to inform us of what requisitions are being implemented, where this material is going and how it will be distributed," she said. However, she did not specify what effect these requisitions are having on Catalonia's response to the emergency.

Health minister Alba Vergés explained that all the Catalan authorities know about the requisitions is what they are being told by companies and distributors. "We don't understand how already-made orders can be stopped, how they can say that all products have to be centralized in Madrid. In a time of crisis you have to let people do their work. In a time of crisis, centralizing is the worst solution," warned Vergés.

 

Meanwhile, interior minister Miquel Buch reiterated that the request for the full Catalan lockdown made by his government is intended to avoid the sort of confusion caused by the Spanish government's decree. "The state needs to understand that this is not about frontiers, it is about health," he said.

 

Budó did not specify whether Catalan president Quim Torra would attend the meeting of autonomous community presidents called by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, but she said she was confident that the presidential meetings would be more than a one-way conversation.

Under Spain's system of autonomous communities, public health systems are run on a regional basis. The state of alarm declared last weekend by the central government gives Madrid the ability to overule the health authorities in each part of the state.   

 

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