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Spain's first Coronavirus-free area revealed
24 May 2020 @ 19:31


IT'S A taste of what could come in the near future and one which is hoped will quickly spread to all 19 of Spain's autonomously-governed territories – but one of these has become the first in the country to have no active cases of Covid-19 whatsoever.

Although not entirely Coronavirus-free – four people still test positive for the condition, but are asymptomatic and otherwise in perfect health – nobody is in hospital with it, and not even anyone in quarantine at home.

Melilla, one of Europe's only two enclaves sharing a land border with the African continent, is directly across the water south of Almería and sits on the northern Moroccan coast, close to this country's frontier with Algeria.

As at the end of last year, it was home to 84,689 people, and at the worst point in the pandemic, over 130 at any one time were infected with Covid-19.

Two people in the entire city-province have died from the condition so far this year.

“Melilla has the best figures for the whole of Spain in terms of mortality percentage, and in terms of numbers, the lowest incidence of the disease and lowest death rate, as well as the lowest accumulated incidence of Covid-19 in the country,” says regional public health minister Mohammed Mohand.

MP in Melilla Sabrina Moh recalls that the first diagnosis was made on March 12.

Both politicians in the city – who are on the PSOE (socialist) party, the same as the national government – urge residents to remember two points: “One, the hope for a return to normality, but two, to remain very conscious that this hasn't finished. The virus still exists and, therefore, we need to behave with the right level of diligence, and even more now that we're winning the battle.

“We're still playing with fire. Coronavirus kills, let's not forget. We've overcome a major hurdle, but we haven't finished the race.

“How the pandemic evolves from here depends entirely on all of us, and we mustn't let our guards down – the virus is still here amongst us, and the danger has not disappeared.”

Mohand, who is also regional minister for economy and social policy in the tripartite government of Melilla – made up of the socialists (led by Gloria Rojas), centre-right Ciudadanos (led by Melilla regional president Eduardo de Castro González) and the independent Coalition For Melilla, or CPM (led by Mustafa Aberchán) – speaks positively about the enclave's recovery.

“Here, we're getting back our hotel and catering and our retailing industries; we're starting to go back and see our families; we're starting to make contact again with our loved ones, and we need to stick to the staged transitions or phases agreed so we can carry on moving forward towards a new normality,” Mohand stresses.

“Today [for Saturday], after 70 days of intense efforts on the part of Melilla's health service, we've reached one of the main goals we set for ourselves as soon as we became aware of the first two Covid-19 positives.

“Our healthcare personnel has worked really hard on many fronts, but despite their huge efforts, they were unable to prevent, sadly, two Melilla residents dying.

“For this reason, we now need to be extra-cautious – avoid gatherings, maintain social distancing, wash our hands - and especially during the upcoming fiestas.”



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