Spain Friday has declared a state of emergency as coronavirus cases have surged beyond 4,200, with 120 deaths registered.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that the administration Saturday will decide on the measures to be taken under the state of emergency, which gives the government more power.
“This is only the first phase of combatting this virus … the next weeks will be very difficult,” said Sanchez.
Schools are already closed across the country. Madrid, Valencia and Catalonia will close all bars, restaurants and gyms as of Saturday.
Everyone in the country is being told to remain at home and avoid all non-essential travel. The government is appealing to individual responsibility.
For now, there are few restrictions on travel, with the exception of a handful of small towns that are on lockdown.
Since Monday, when there were 1,000 positive tests, the number of confirmed cases has roughly been doubling every two days in Spain.
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimates that Spain and the U.S currently have the highest rates of transmission in the world.
The effects of new measures taken to contain the virus spread so far this week are yet to be felt. Friday was the first day that all schools across the country were closed.
Enrique Ruiz Escudero, a member of the Health Council of Madrid, estimates that Spain’s peak in cases will be mid-April. Health Minister Salvador Illa suggested that transmissions will last between two and four months.