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Sunday, July 19, 2020

July 19, 2020
Residents in Barcelona were urged to stay home (Image: PA)

BARCELONA residents have been urged to stay home as authorities battle to curb a rise in coronavirus cases.

Residents of Barcelona, which is Spain's second largest city with a population of 1.6 million people, were urged to stay home and not gather in groups of more than 10 on Friday. But authorities stopped short of imposing a mandatory lockdown.

Catalonia's health chief Alba Verges told a news conference: "We recommend that people don't move around if it's not absolutely necessary.

"It is very important to respect these measures now, it's the best way to avoid a lockdown."

Residents were urged to shop online and cultural and sports events will also be limited.

But museums will remain open in the Catalan capital, one of Europe's most visited cities.

It comes after Barcelona saw a surge in its number of coronavirus cases jump from last week.

Spain reported the steepest daily jump in coronavirus infections in over two months on Thursday, with 580 new cases registered, up from 390 reported on Wednesday and with the regions of Aragon and Catalonia leading the increase.

Catalonia and neighouring Aragon have led the increase.

Spain has been one of Europe's hardest-hit countries with more than 28,000 deaths in the pandemic.

It emerged from a strict national lockdown on June 21 but since then more than 170 clusters have sprung up, prompting regional authorities to impose a patchwork of local restrictions.

Authorities have reimposed restrictions in some areas of Catalonia, including home confinement in the Lleida area affecting some 160,000 people, and health officials there said measures would have to be taken in the capital Barcelona, but gave no further details.

Over 170 localised outbreaks have emerged across Spain since it lifted its nationwide lockdown - one of the strictest in Europe, on June 21, with Catalonia at the epicentre of new outbreaks.

Spain's health ministry put the number of cases confirmed over the past 24 hours in the region at 142, up from 91 the previous day. In Aragon in the east, the number of infections jumped to 266 from 160, according to the health ministry.

The Catalan health authority, which counts both confirmed and suspected cases, said the number soared to 1,293 overnight, the highest since at least May 18, when the counting methodology changed.

The Catalan capital - home to 1.6 million people and one of Europe's most visited cities - tripled its number of coronavirus cases from last week.

Authorities have also imposed some restrictions in three neighbourhoods of a Barcelona suburb that houses some 260,000 people.

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