Spain

Spain’s health minister quits amid pandemic to run for regional Catalan election

Reuters
Spain’s health minister quits amid pandemic to run for regional Catalan election

RUNNING FOR ELECTIONS. Spain's Health Minister Salvador Illa in Barcelona, Spain February 12, 2020.

File photo by Nacho Doce/Reuters

A source close to the government points to Regional Policy Minister Carolina Darias as the most likely candidate to take over the position

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa will leave his job on Tuesday, January 26, to run for elections scheduled in Catalonia on February 14 to try and win the regional government away from pro-independence parties.

“Salvador Illa starts today his last 24 hours at the helm of the ministry,” the office of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a statement. “Tomorrow Tuesday will be his last cabinet meeting and his replacement will be disclosed.”

A source close to the government pointed to Regional Policy Minister Carolina Darias as the most likely candidate to take over the position.

In her current role, Darias has worked closely with Illa and overseen weekly summits of regional health chiefs to coordinate the coronavirus response.

The new minister’s first task will be tackling a rampaging third wave of infection that has sent Spain’s 14-day incidence of the virus spiraling to 829 cases per 100,000 people from 263 cases a month ago.

Desperate to control the spread, some regional authorities have substantially stepped up their response after months of incremental tightening.

Valencia imposed some of the country’s toughest measures yet, limiting people to mixing only with members of their household at home and banning groups of more than two from socializing outdoors.

Even Madrid, whose regional government has been staunchly opposed to any measures that hurt business, will on Monday, January 25, bring forward a night curfew to 10 pm and said it would deploy drones and extra police patrols to enforce compliance.

Opinion polls have been split on the Catalonia election. But some, including one by the Centre for Sociological Studies (CIS), have shown Illa’s Socialists, now the fourth-largest party in the regional parliament, on track to win the biggest share of the vote in the February 14 election.

That would be a major change in a region currently led by pro-independence parties. – Rappler.com

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