Spain's Health Minister quits to run for regional Catalan elections

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FILE PHOTO: Spain's Health Minister Salvador Illa attends a news conference at Hospital Clinic in Barcelona

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa will leave his job on Tuesday to run for the regional Catalan elections scheduled on Feb. 14, the Prime Minister's office said on Monday in a statement.

"Salvador Illa starts today his last 24 hours at the helm of the ministry," the statement said. "Tomorrow Tuesday will be his last cabinet meeting and his replacement will be disclosed."

Illa, who has overseen Spain's response to the coronavirus pandemic, had said he would run for the regional elections in Catalonia, his home region, and would step down when campaign started in earnest.

The country has been one of the most severely hit by the pandemic in the Europe with close to 2.5 million cased diagnosed since the beginning and an official death toll of 55,441 as of Friday.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Toby Chopra)