Click here for today’s full report: Coronavirus in Spain (2 May)
The Barcelona-based non-profit organisation, Open Arms – renowned for rescuing and providing first-aid to many refugees in the Mediterranean Sea fleeing wars, hunger or persecution – is helping to combat Coronavirus (Covid-19) in care homes in Catalonia.
Joining forces with the Catalan health department (CatSalut) and supporting healthcare teams already working in elderly residencies, over 70 volunteers from Open Arms with 30 vehicles are helping to conduct tests and collect sample from care homes, to try and detect early outbreaks of the virus.
ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain full update (14 April)
In a statement Open Arms said that, ‘Emergency measures and rapid actions to prevent deaths are a priority. It is for this reason that our teams join the great efforts being made by the healthcare network since the beginning of this pandemic.’
Open Arms had also tweeted during March that several of their volunteers who are doctors and nurses had been on some of their missions in the Mediterranean Sea – and they were now all helping patients in hospitals in both Barcelona and Madrid.
Iñas, doctor on mission 65, treated 163 castaways during 21 endless days in the toughest mission #OpenArms. Today he faces #COVIDー19 as a respiratory emergency physician at a first aid center in Barcelona.
Huge, Iñas, thank you and strength!
— Open Arms ENG (@openarms_found) March 26, 2020
Both were our medical team on mission 68 #OpenArms, today they face the pandemic #COVIDー19
Isabel is emergency doctor at the Doce de Octubre hospital and Inés works as a nurse at the La Paz hospital, #Madrid
Huge professionals. Lots of strength!
#EveryLifeCounts #StayHome pic.twitter.com/u8jK91l0oK
— Open Arms ENG (@openarms_found) March 27, 2020
ALSO READ: Richard Gere joins migrant rescue ship, EU president calls for ‘urgent action’
The Open Arms NGO rescue ship is currently in the port of Barcelona, having made its last rescue in February, after docking in the Italian port of Pozzallo with 363 rescued migrants following several days requesting safe harbour.
In November 2019, Italy offered a safe port to the Open Arms ship after they saved 73 migrants shipwrecked in the western Mediterranean Sea.
ALSO READ: Open Arms rescues another 40 migrants at sea
During the summer of 2019 Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini would not grant permission for Open Arms to dock in the country. After 19 days stranded in the Mediterranean with over 160 migrants on board, the Open Arms rescue ship eventually docked in the Italian port of Lampedusa.
In September 2019, the founder of Open Arms, Oscar Camps, was awarded the Catalan parliament’s Medal of Honor, along with the captain of the Sea Watch 3 rescue ship, Carola Rackete.
Click here for all our reports on Coronavirus in Spain