Interior: seizure of respirators by Spanish authorities is “appalling”

Catalan Minister of the Interior Miquel Buch claims “Catalonia does not need the army”

The situation is “appalling” and “suppliers are setting eye-watering prices for respirators of questionable standards”. Sources from Catalonia’s Ministry of the Interior have complained to this newspaper that “the Catalan administration has been experiencing supply issues since Monday, when manufacturers began handing over their stock to Spain’s Guardia Civil” in accordance with the new decree that authorises the Spanish government to seize respirators and decide on their use. The masks and respirators are being confiscated not only in factories outside Catalonia and at airport customs, but also from plants and factories in Catalonia where the supplies were earmarked for Catalan hospitals.

This was also the main complaint from the Catalan government’s spokesperson, Meritxell Budó, who spoke at a Procicat press conference and stated that “the Spanish authorities are seizing hospital supplies that were intended for hospitals in Catalonia” and she urged Pedro Sánchez’s government to offer “an explanation”. Alba Vergés, the Catalan Health Minister, remarked that “we cannot understand how they can seize a batch of supplies that was ready for shipping and claim that Madrid is taking over from now on. In a time of crisis, you must let people do their job”. She went on to explain that “some suppliers have been told to halt deliveries and report their existing stock”.

The Spanish government’s emergency coordinator, Fernando Simón, explained that “the health ministry is allocating the supplies to the regions that need them most, but they are all being catered for”. On the subject of the recentralisation of the distribution of medical supplies, Simón argued that the seizures and redirection of deliveries will be “offset by new deliveries”.

The Catalan Minister of the Interior, Miquel Buch, declared that he is awaiting instructions from the Spanish government about the lockdown on Catalonia’s Òdena region and he insisted that a full lockdown is needed for Catalonia as a whole. Buch explained that his government had initially requested “a lockdown along the perimeter” but now that “we have been put on level two”, what is needed is “a total lockdown of the general public”, with only a few exceptions made in the event of an emergency. Buch noted that he had requested the total lockdown “too long ago”.

“This lockdown is not about politics or borders. It was necessary to protect the Catalan people”. Speaking about the deployment of Spanish troops ordered by PM Sánchez, Buch said that “Catalonia does not need the [Spanish] army” and he argued that “the Catalan police force and local constabularies will uphold the law”.

Buch reported that the Catalan police have responded to 3,252 incidents connected with the COVID-19 crisis. They have stopped 237 vehicles and pressed charges against 485 people. Six business premises have been shut down. Health Minister Alba Vergés spoke in support of the new mobile app and said that it is “a very easy tool that will provide a great deal of information” and will be used to make enquiries from home, thus giving the public health system some breathing space. She praised the “solidarity” of private hospitals that have donated medical supplies to public hospitals and she claimed that “the public are behaving in an exemplary manner”.

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