MADRID, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday placed Spain on a "state of alert" aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Sanchez announced the measure after the Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Security confirmed that the number of coronavirus cases in Spain had risen from around 3,200 on Thursday to 4,334 on Friday, with 122 deaths.
"I have just informed the head of state that we will be holding an emergency cabinet meeting tomorrow in which we will declare a state of alert for all of Spain for the next 15 days," Sanchez said.
Sanchez said Saturday's cabinet meeting will result in "a number of exceptional measures," which "will be aimed to mobilize all of the resources of the state to better protect its citizens."
These resources, he said, will be economic and healthcare-related, both public and private, civil and military. "The aim is to protect everyone, especially those who are more vulnerable to the virus because of their age or because they suffer other medical problems," he said.
A "state of alert" grants the state wide-ranging powers to limit the movement of people and vehicles at certain times and in certain places, allows for the temporary seizure of property, and obliges people to provide certain services.
These powers also include mobilizing the army, as well as intervening in factories and workshops and taking the necessary measures in order to assure food supplies, including rationing.
Sanchez said the government will work to protect everyone, but acknowledged that this was just the "first phase" of the battle against COVID-19 and that "very difficult weeks lie ahead."
He also said it was "impossible to rule out that we will reach 10,000 cases in the coming week," and explained that the measures were aimed at stopping the virus spreading "too quickly", and to ensure that "the most vulnerable people" can get the treatment they need.
The prime minister asked the elderly to do everything they can to protect themselves, and noted that although young people may believe they are not in as much danger as old people, "they can still spread the disease to people close to them" and consequently they too "have to limit social contact."
Finally, Sanchez asked all citizens to follow the advice of experts.
"Victory depends on all of us at home, with our family, at work and in our neighborhood. Heroism is also washing your hands, staying at home, looking after yourself, so you can help others. This will take weeks, it will be hard and difficult, but we will stop the virus, with unity, with responsibility and social discipline. We will do this with the advice of science and with all the resources of the state."
"We will stop this virus together," Sanchez concluded.