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The coronavirus epidemic is demanding courageous political leadership, but political leaders are also being taken away from their normal duties by the virus itself. In the Spanish state, the latest to be affected are Spanish government minister Irene Montero, who has been infected with Covid-19, and Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, who is in isolation, after possible exposure to the virus. 

Montero is the fourth member of the Spanish Congress to be confirmed as having the virus, after Vox members Javier Ortega Smith and Carlos Zambrano García, and former PP speaker of the house Ana Pastor. Now an MP who is also a member of the Spanish government has been struck, as equality minister Montero has tested positive. As a precautionary measure, her partner Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos and one of Spain's four deputy prime ministers, is also in quarantine.

All members of the PSOE-Podemos coalition government were to undergo diagnostic tests for the virus on Thursday, which the government has undertaken to release. Several members of the Spanish executive, including Irene Montero, took part in last Sunday's International Women's Day rally in Madrid. On the same day, the Vox party was holding its own rally in a Madrid arena - and many members of the far-right party who were present have gone into self-isolation. 

Meanwhile in Barcelona, mayor Ada Colau has been required to go into isolation after the confirmation of two new positives for Covid-19 at Barcelona city council, following two cases earlier this week. Twenty-four hours earlier, Colau had asked Barcelona residents to "slow down the pace of the city" to contain the coronavirus. Now, as she said in a video, she has to practice what she preached.  


"The best response we can give to the virus is a collective one, following the protocols of the health authorities, and supporting and looking after one another" said Colau. "The most vulnerable people need to be protected," she said, addding that the most important challenge was to "prevent the public health system from collapsing", bearing in mind that over the next few weeks the contagion is expected to peak.

Like the mayor, 145 other council employees are in confinement as a precautionary measure, after being in contact with one of the five people in different areas of the Barcelona municipal council who were infected over the past few days. City councillors Jaume Collboni, Montse Ballarín, Jordi Martí, Rosa Alarcón and Janet Sanz are among those in isolation.

On Wednesday, Colau announced the city was taking a series of measures to "slow down the city" and "cancel unnecessary activities", including the closure of 58 senior citizens' day centres, reductions in the number of people allowed at any time into civic centres, sporting facilities and libraries, as well as the cancellation of non-essential events and reinforcement to tele-assistance to Barcelona's elderly population of around 100,000.