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Spain declares nationwide state of emergency over virus

The new state of emergency will last until the beginning of May, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised speech.

A man wearing a face mask walks by the plaque of the new named square 'Plaza Coronavirus' in Valencia on 17 September 2020. The name of the square was changed temporarily to raise awareness of the importance of scientists and research during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: AFP.

MADRID - Spanish declared a national state of emergency Sunday, and a curfew covering all of Spain except the Canary Islands, in a bid to curb a second wave of coronavirus cases.

The new state of emergency will last until the beginning of May, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised speech.

"The situation we are going through is extreme," he stressed.

The measures were agreed earlier Sunday at a two-and-a-half-hour cabinet meeting convened to respond to calls from the regions for powers to impose curfews to fight the surge in coronavirus cases.

A government statement said the overnight curfew would run from 11:00 pm until 6:00 am.

While the state of emergency would initially last for 15 days, it would go to parliament to get it extended for six months, the statement added.

They were responding to calls for help from 10 Spanish regions and the city of Melilla, it said.

Under the state of emergency, the regions would have the power to limit movement in and out of their territories.

Spain on Wednesday became the first European country to record more than a million cases of the virus.