More than 206 countries have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak, and it seems like there is no longer a safe place to stay that is COVID-19 free, except for a hilltop fortress town located in Spain that has cut itself from the rest of the world to prevent the virus from spreading. There has not been a single case among its locals.
Zero coronavirus case in this Spanish town
The Zahara de la Sierra is located high above the Andalusian countryside in southern Spain. On March 14, the same day Spain announced that it is extending its state of alarm, the town's mayor Santiago Galvan, blocked all but one of the town's five entrances.
Spain has recorded more than 126,168 coronavirus cases and more than 11,947 deaths. However, not one single case of COVID-19 has been recorded among Zahara de la Sierra's 1,400 locals, more than two weeks after the town cut itself off from the rest of the world.
There is a checkpoint station on the one road into the town that remains open, and a single police officer is patrolling the area. Two men wearing protective gear that is normally used for spraying the olive groves wash every single vehicle that enters with water and bleach. Each car must also drive through a make-shift ditch to clean and disinfect its tires.
Galvan added that there is no car that comes through the town's checkpoint that has not been disinfected. The town has managed to give tranquility to their neighbors and they know that no one unknown can come in. There are other sanitation measures introduced in the town and that includes disinfection procedures.
How they disinfect
According to Galvan, every Monday and Thursday at 5:30 pm around 10 people disinfect the streets, the plazas and the outside homes of the town. One local farmer, Antonio Atienza, drives his tractor through the town and sprays the streets.
Another local business pays two women to deliver medical supplies and groceries to residents for almost 11 hours a day. One of the women, Auxi Rascon, told CNN: "They [the residents] are very happy because they don't need to go out, they feel protected and feel confident. They took the right measures at the right moment, and now we are seeing the results."
The drastic action done by Mayor Galvan has had the full support of the townspeople, of which almost a quarter are older than 65. The Zaharilla women's association also arranges basic repairs for elderly residents who need help. A Facebook page made for older residents has started a drive to get old pictures online.
In order to keep the positivity of the townspeople, Galvan said that two cars have been fitted with lights and music that children can look at from their balconies. The economy of the town is provided by family-run businesses and the self-employed.
Galvan said that the town council has used its contingency fund to cover water, electricity and tax costs for local businesses during the national state of emergency. He said that ultimately, the town will need financial support from Madrid or the regional government.
The town is just an hour from Seville and a popular tourist destination because it features white houses and narrow streets that cling to the steep hillside, complete with medieval fortifications and rolling olive groves. Mayor Galvan said that they had to turn away German and French tourists who were not aware of the town's measures in the first few days after he ordered to isolate the town.