Udayavni Special

How southern town in Spain turned their place as ‘fortress’ from COVID-19

Team Udayavani, Apr 7, 2020, 10:02 AM IST

In ancient times, Kings used to build a fortress in their region to safeguard their country from enemies. In this 21st century, a fortress town in southern Spain is battling COVID-19 in a unique way.

Zahara de la Sierra, a fortress town in southern Spain has cut itself off from the world to prevent infection with the coronavirus. This city has always been famous for running away from enemies.

On March 14, 40-year-old Mayor, Santiago Galván, decided to block all but one of the town’s five entrances. Galván acted the day that Spain’s “state of alarm” came into force. Meanwhile, the city administration has hired two women to deliver the material to all the homes. This does not create a crowd of people on the road.

Since then, the country has recorded more than 100,000 cases and 10,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. However, In Zahara, there has not been a single recorded case of Covid-19 among its 1,400 inhabitants.

The mayor’s drastic steps have the full support of the townspeople, and especially the elderly. Nearly a quarter of Zahara’s inhabitants are older than 65; there are more than 30 residents in an old people’s home. Towns and villages nearby have seen infections and several coronavirus fatalities.

Zahara’s white houses and narrow streets cling to the steep hillside, looking up at medieval fortifications and down towards a reservoir and rolling olive groves. An hour from Seville by car, it’s a popular destination for visitors from around the world and in the first few days, they had to turn away French and German tourists who were unaware of the local government’s measures.

The checkpoint on the one access road is run by a single police officer. Two men dressed in the protective clothing normally used for spraying the olive groves wash vehicles that come through with a mix of bleach and water. The vehicles even have to pass through a sort of sheep-dip to ensure their tires are disinfected and there’s no car that comes through the checkpoint that’s not disinfected.

No one is given entry into this town except for a car with essential items. Every Monday and Thursday a team of 10 members performs the work of sanitization throughout the city.

More than 73,000 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, while some 1.3 million infections have been confirmed in at least 184 countries and territories. More than 250,000 people have recovered to date.

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