Spanish PM calls in army to help fight COVID-19

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that 2,000 members of the armed forces will help the country’s 17 autonomous communities with the task of tracking and tracing those who have been in contact with people infected with the coronavirus.

Sanchez made the announcement in a televised address on Tuesday following the weekly cabinet meeting, which took place a day after the Health Ministry on Monday said that over 40,000 new COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in the previous week — the highest weekly number in Spain since the end of March, Xinhua news agency reported.

The inability to effectively track and trace contacts has been given by many experts as one of the reasons behind the new surge in virus cases.

“There are 2,000 soldiers who have specific training in early detection and epidemiological surveillance, and who are available to the autonomous communities, especially those with more difficulties, and that number could be increased because more can be trained,” explained Sanchez.

The prime minister said that the government had launched a “COVID-19 Fund” of 16 billion euros (US $18.9 billion) to strengthen public health services and stressed that the executive would back any community that requested a State of Alarm to enforce stricter lockdown measures and restrictions on movement.

Sanchez also delivered an optimistic message that despite the rise in cases, the country was in a much better situation to deal with the coronavirus than in March and April.

“We have to be calm and vigilant and continue with the effort of early detection, isolation and anticipation of the virus,” he said.