Europe vs COVID-19: Food parcels, disinfectant and responsibility
By Isobel Ewing in Budapest
Amid the heartache, a rare moment of celebration in a Barcelona hospital: medical staff cheer as a COVID-19 patient leaves the ICU to be transferred to a general ward. Spain is about to enter its third week of lockdown as the death toll continues to soar and the country struggles to cope.
Communities are doing what they can to help. Six food delivery companies in Barcelona have joined forces to deliver free meals to hospital and municipal staff working amid the crisis. It's a gesture appreciated by Luis Miguel Martin, a doctor at the hospital.
"Thank you very much for your gift," he said, "because it is not only food, but a gift of emotions and encouragement to continue and to think that everything that is being done is really worth it. Thank you very much with all my heart."
Equipped with pumps and even drones, soldiers in Spain are out disinfecting train stations, hospitals, jails – and nursing homes, one of the country's worst-hit sectors. Clad in fully protective gear, they carefully wipe down every surface. The cobbled streets of Portugal's beachfront town Cascais, usually filled with tourists at this time of year, are also being hosed down.
In Italy, President Sergio Mattarella is trying to shore up morale. "The sense of responsibility of the citizens is the most important resource that a democratic state can count on in moments like the one we are living," he said. "The collective response that Italian people are giving to the emergency is an object of admiration abroad."
Hungary entered its first day of the government's lockdown, meaning people are only permitted to leave their homes for good reason. It's a broad definition with manicure parlors, tobacco shops and outdoor markets remaining open – for now. However, restaurants and cafes are only permitted to operate home deliveries.
Spain has already extended its lockdown beyond a fortnight, and the government isn't ruling out further measures to curtail people's movement. Its hospitals and morgues are overcrowded and with other EU countries all fighting their own battles, the end is very much not on the horizon.
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