SERGI QUITIAN, BARCELONA, CARMEN DEL RIEGO, MADRID 01/04/2020
Yesterday, the army on the Sabadell athletics track (Alejandro Garcia / EFE)
Despite the initial reluctance expressed by the Catalan Government, the presence of the army in Catalonia in efforts against the coronavirus pandemic is becoming more extensive every day. Especially in disinfection tasks of buildings -especially residential centers-, but also in the empowerment of the two field hospitals in the Fira de Barcelona and in Sabadell.
To the initial requests of Barcelona, Badalona or l’Hospitalet de Llobregat, municipalities of different political signs have been added, such as Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Cornellà de Llobregat (PSC); El Prat de Llobregat and Pallejà (Comuns); Sant Cugat del Vallès, Lleida and Balaguer (ERC); Àger and Torres de Segre (JxCat), and Terrassa and Sort (independent lists). In total they are already over thirty.
The ship ‘Galicia’, with operating room, ICU and capacity for 800 beds, will be installed in Melilla
A deployment that in most cases is articulated through the military emergency unit (UME), but which has also had units from the Spanish Army, for example, in locations near the Talarn Academy. In some cases it is the Consistory itself that requests military support from the Government Delegation in Catalonia, and in others it is carried out in coordination with the Department of Afers Socials and Families. In fact, the Ministry itself reports that although they have already activated more than a hundred cleanings with their own resources, they have also authorized the UME to act in 17 more cases. In addition, yesterday at the Procicat emergency cabinet meeting they asked to improve coordination with the Spanish Government Delegation.
In parallel, the armed forces have activated one of their ships, the amphibious assault ship Galicia, so that it can serve as a support hospital in Melilla during the coronavirus crisis, according to the head of the Defense Staff (Jemad) yesterday. , Miguel Ángel Villarroya. Galicia, which was already used as a hospital in the Iraq war, has an operating room, ICU and could eventually have about 800 beds.
The ship, which will not arrive in Melilla before tomorrow night, is one of the five ships that the Navy has prepared to be able to serve as a hospital in those places where it is needed due to the health crisis. Much of the tasks now carried out by the military, within the Balmis operation, consists of supporting the installation of field hospitals throughout Spain, given the congestion problems that are occurring in hospitals.
There are already 16 field hospitals in which the army is participating, from the one installed in the Ifema fairgrounds or the one built in the vicinity of the Gregorio Marañón hospital in Madrid, to the one that is being installed on the covered athletics track of Sabadell –with 240 beds–, or the one that is going to be put in the Fira de Barcelona. All this while continuing to carry out the disinfection tasks to which the soldiers have been dedicating themselves, in basic infrastructures and other facilities such as nursing homes.
Yesterday there were practically 7,000 soldiers deployed within the Balmis operation to fight the coronavirus.