A coronavirus “super-spreader” could be responsible for at least 140 positive cases on the holiday island of Gran Canaria, which is facing the threat of a new lockdown.
Health experts believe the virus was introduced via the nightlife scene in the Guanarteme district of the popular Playa de las Canteras resort.
While mainland Spain struggles with a second wave, Gran Canaria is battling escalating outbreaks of coronavirus which have put the island on the brink of a new lockdown unlesss the situation drastically improves in the next 14 days.
The Canary government says it is watching the evolution of the virus very carefully and monitoring what action to take on a day to day basis.
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It hopes new measures such as the closure of all nightclubs, 1am closing for pubs and restaurants and extended rules on the wearing of face masks in public spaces will have an impact. If not, there will be localised or even island-wide lockdowns.
Lluis Serra Majem, professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and spokesman for the scientific advisory committee of the Government of the Canary Islands, said one or more super-spreaders arriving from the Spanish mainland were considered to be responsible for at least 140 positive results.
Super-spreaders are people who have the virus, usually without showing any symptoms and probably not even realising they have it.
By islands, Gran Canaria continues to lead in the number of cases with 3,283 accumulated positives (+171 as of Saturday compared to this Thursday), of which 2,481 are active (+161).
Currently, the island has registered 46 deaths (+1) and 756 medical discharges (+9).
Of the active positives there are, 2,095 are in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (+130).
The Canary Islands have registered 297 new positives in the last 24 hours, which represents a new record of daily infections – which was at 295 last Thursday – placing the number of accumulated cases since the start of the pandemic at 6,442.
In the space of just four days, police in Las Palmas issued 177 fines for breaches of the coronavirus safety regulations, the majority of them for not wearing a mask.
President of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres warned that if people continue to flout the rules, penalties will be substantially increased.
He says 100 military trackers from the State will reinforce the areas most affected by the rebound, mainly Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.
In addition, Gran Canaria’s tracking team has gone from 89 to 158 and the local police will be making sure people tested positive and put into quarantine comply with the isolation.
“A person who receives the order to be quarantined for ten days must comply with it; it is an obligation of a sanitary nature but also of another nature, with the pertinent sanctions,” Mr Torres warned.
Spain is battling a second wave of Covid-19 and has the highest infection rate across the EU/EEA and UK area.
It is still recording thousands of new cases of coronavirus every day, and other countries continue to impose new travel restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Spain’s 14-day incidence rate of coronavirus is 196.4 cases per 100,000 people – the highest across the EU/EEA and UK area – according to the latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
It was removed from the ‘safe tavel’ list last month as cases soared in some regions, meaning anyone arriving in the UK from the mainland or islands must self-isolate for 14 days.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises against all non-essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands, “based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks”.
Spain on Friday said it had diagnosed 3,829 new coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours, down from a revised count of more than 6,000 on Thursday.
It had previously said a record 9,779 new cases were detected.
A cumulative total of 439,286 infections have been detected since the onset of the pandemic.
In the past seven days, 129 people have died from the virus, bringing the total toll to 29,011, health ministry data showed.
The latest statistics could be modified in future as Spain retroactively adjusts its official data.
Other countries continue to impose travel restrictions due to the second wave in Spain.
Greece will ban flights to and from Spain’s Catalonia region, including Barcelona, from Monday. People arriving in Greece from Spain must show a negative Covid-19 test to enter the country.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with leaders of Germany’s states on Thursday, and they agreed to introduce stricter quarantine rules for travellers returning from countries on Germany’s high-risk list – most outside of Europe some regions within the European Union such as Paris and most of Spain.
The move was motivated by concern over the fact that many new cases or coronavirus have been linked to infections brought back from summer holiday travel.
Foreign Office travel advice for Spain
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FC) currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.
However, travel to some countries and territories that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers is currently exempted.
In its latest advice for Spain, which is current as of Saturday, the FCO said: “From 27 July, the FCO advise against all non-essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks in the country.
“This advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of COVID-19 across Spain.
“The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time.
“Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.
“If you are returning from Spain you will be required to self-isolate on your return to the UK, but the FCO is not advising you to cut short your visit.
“You should contact your tour operator or airline if you have any questions about your return journey.”