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The Catalan government has projections on the evolution of the coronavirus in Catalonia which predict that the peak of the epidemic will be in late April, according to president Quim Torra. In a video conference this Wednesday with spokespeople for all Catalan parliamentary groups, Torra commented on the possibility: "It's a scenario, but it is my duty to tell the citizenry about what could happen. Full lockdown is needed, except for essential services," he said, emphasizing once again that decisions in this regard are urgent.

According to Torra, under this scenario a "a situation similar to that of Italy will be reached" and stabilization will not take place until weeks later, in mid-June. "The public must prepare for a situation that is difficult for us to imagine, which will force us to make difficult decisions. We mustn't let even the worst prospects paralyze us," he said. The prediction sends a different message to that of the Spanish emergency authorities on the crisis, who suggest the peak might arrive in a matter of days. 

Total lockdown

The head of the Catalan executive, who himself tested positive to the virus and is working in isolation, gave a list of five urgent demands to respond to the crisis, with the first of these being the need to ensure a complete lockdown to contain the spread, and he warned that every minute that passed without that being in place is a lost minute and added to the risks that people face. "It isn't a political or ideological problem or one of borders. There's enough demagogy being thrown around on this issue," he said.

Torra went through the different requests his government had made to the Spanish government for a full lockdown in Catalonia, the first one being on Friday, March 13th. He recalled that he was the only leader of Spain's autonomous communities who requested it at the time. He returned to the matter on Thursday, March 19th. Both times he supported his argument with expert reports and projected scenarios.

He explained that last Sunday, during the meeting between the regional presidents and Pedro Sánchez, he requested it again and this time three more presidents requested it as he did. "Because, like Catalonia, they understand that the best thing they can do to protect their citizens is to apply these measures," he said.

He also recalled that he has demanded an equitable and transparent distribution of the necessary medical supplies for the pandemic, as well as a package of economic measures from the Spanish government in a scenario where this week 300,000 workers could be affected by temporary layoffs in Catalonia. 

The president acknowledged that the numbers were "very worrying", noting that in the last 24 hours 177 had people had died from the virus in Catalonia, and that the total number of victims was 516. He also reiterated the insufficient supplies of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, who, he said, "are having huge problems" because the supply of gowns, masks and gloves is not sufficient.

Five basic demands 

Torra synthesized into a five point plan the measures which, according to his Catalan government, should be taken immediately in response to the current crisis:

  • A total lockdown
  • Universal basic income
  • Support to SMEs, freelancers and companies, through loans and liquidity
  • Suspension of payment requirements for tax, rents and utilities 
  • Maximum strengthening of the healthcare system 

"All this has to be done together and at the same time. I know the future is uncertain, but we will not get out of this if we take some measures and not the other ones," he said.

Speaking to his parliamentary opponents Torra admitted: "In the case of some of you, we have been ruthless rivals. We have had unheard of discussions. There are no political colours or blocks for me today. I and the Catalan government are with you for what you need and I ask for all help, generosity and support to make it possible. That is the only way we can move forward," he concluded