Catalan president Quim Torra has come out in defence of the work of his health minister, Alba Vergés, in the fight against coronavirus, saying that the manslaughter allegation that has been filed against both of them is "an infamy". Torra and Vergés are the subject of an investigation by a court of first instance for allegedly not allowing the opening of a coronavirus field hospital set up by a Spanish army unit and the paramilitary Civil Guard in the town of Sant Andreu de la Barca, near Barcelona.
"It greatly hurts me that the health minister and I are being investigated for homicide. Honestly, the minister does not deserve this with the work she is doing. To me, the complaint that has been made seems a disgrace," said the president during a press conference with international correspondents.
The Catalan High Court of Justice is considering what action it will take over the case after a local court in the town of Martorell opened an investigation to clarify why the government rejected the field hospital which the Civil Guard had mounted in Sant Andreu de la Barca, on the periphery of Barcelona city.
The president assured that there was no problem in accepting the participation of the military, just like any other body, when it was required for humanitarian work. In fact, he gave the recent example of last summer's wildfire in the Ribera d'Ebre region. "The collaboration of the military was key on that occasion," he said.
However, he emphasized that coordination was essential and that all field hospitals in Catalonia had to be assigned to a hospital of reference, otherwise "it was pointless." "In Sant Andreu de la Barca, if it had been done in coordination with the hospital, things would have been very different," he said.
The president also mentioned during his press appearance the new model for calculating victims of coronavirus which has just been adopted by the Catalan government, making use of cross-checks with the figures provided by funeral homes. After applying this model, the overall total of Covid-19 deaths in Catalonia has increased to 7,097, apparently resolving some of the obvious omissions which were occurring under the previous system, such as a failure to include the deaths in senior citizens' residences.
Torra said that this system provided much more transparency and asserted that all autonomous communities and the state should adopt it.