By Andrew Atkinson

Millions of people in the Catalan capital and surrounding areas have been advised to stay at home – after a spike in coronavirus cases were reported.

Meritxell Budo, spokesman for the Catalan Generalitat, said: “We ask citizens not to leave home – unless it’s strictly necessary.

“We also urge people not to travel to second homes this weekend.

“We are being obliged to take this step backwards. We urge people to demonstrate maximum awareness and put an end to the relaxation we have been seeing in the last few weeks.”

Active outbreaks of Covid-19 in Barcelona and the number of cases has tripled this week, with over 30 new cases.

Over 150 new cases were detected last week – and the number this week has increased to over 500.

Lockdown is still in place for 140,000 inhabitants in Lleida, 100 miles west of Barcelona, along with seven nearby municipalities.

People there have reportedly been told to remain indoors, unless it is strictly necessary to leave home.

The return to lockdown comes amid the state of alarm put in place following the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, and the easing of restrictions.