With over 148,000 confirmed cases as of April 9, Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries of the novel coronavirus. However, one town in Spain has managed to remain untouched by the virus. By Upasana Singh
On March 14, Spain declared a ‘state of alarm’ to combat the spread of COVID-19. The town’s mayor Santiago Galván immediately ordered four out of five entrances to be shut down in response to the countrywide lockdown.
Since then, Spain recorded more than 100,000 confirmed cases, according to John Hopkins University figures. However, Zahara – with a population of about 1,400 inhabitants – has not reported a single case of the virus. With one-third of the town’s population over the age of 65, and more than 30 residents living in old age homes, this drastic step by Galván has been appreciated by the townspeople, whereas nearby towns and villages have witnessed infections and several coronavirus deaths.
For years, Zahara de la Sierra’s white houses and narrow streets clinging to the steep hillside with views of olive groves and medieval fortifications have been a popular tourist destination. However, since the town sealed off entrances, the Mayor turned away French and German tourists in the first few days itself. The measures adopted by the authorities include barring the entry of disinfected vehicles entering the town, and a police officer guarding the checkpoint on the one access road, whilst two men wearing protective gear disinfect the vehicles before they enter the town. With the town, streets and other establishments are sanitised bi-weekly by a task force, and local businesses are reducing the number of people delivering groceries and medical supplies.
While millions of people are being affected by the worldwide spread of coronavirus, this hilltop fortress town shows us that by practising social distancing and self-isolation, we can combat the deadly virus. Galván believes that like the previous sieges of Zahara, this too shall pass.