More than 80 people – mostly young migrants rescued at sea – have tested positive for coronavirus in a new outbreak on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
The 83 carriers who tested positive are linked to Malaga’s Red Cross centre, where about 100 people were isolated on Tuesday as the facility was sealed off after a staff member was found to be infected.
Of those, 79 are users of the centre and four are staff. Workers in hazmat suits were at the site and officials are urgently trying to trace people who have had contact with those who are infected.
Spain has suffered one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the world and only just recently began welcoming tourists from Britain and other countries as it eases its lockdown.
It has the world’s sixth highest death toll, with more than 28,000 fatalities, and the sixth highest total of confirmed infections (almost 295,000).
Most of those infected at Malaga’s Red Cross centre are young migrants who were rescued by boat as they tried to cross the Mediterranean, the Olive Press reported.
National Police officers and staff in hazmat suits were standing guard at the locked-down site.
Everyone who has had contact with the carriers is to receive a coronavirus test – a figure that could be in the dozens.
It is said that a Red Cross worker came down with Covid-19 symptoms and was admitted to hospital on Sunday.
That person had recently travelled back from the Canary Islands.
People who were on the same flight and others who had contact with the worker have been traced for testing.
A second person at the Red Cross centre tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, and there were nine more confirmed cases on Tuesday and six more on Wednesday.
About 100 people at the Red Cross centre were isolated on Tuesday, with more than 80 users and staff testing positive.
A source told the Diario Sur newspaper: “We are prepared to deal with the outbreaks.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s government is in talks with Spain and a number of other European countries to establish so-called “air bridges” to allow for quarantine-free travel amid the pandemic.
The first of these air bridges will allow UK holidaymakers to travel to “low-risk” European destinations, including France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany, from July 4, according to reports.
EasyJet has announced hundreds more international flights from 14 airports across the UK from July 1 to countries including France, Spain and Italy.
After months of lockdown many Europeans are dreaming of a summer holiday, but vacations will look a bit different this year – breakfast buffets, guided tours and club nights may well be out; masks and temperature checks are definitely in.
In Barcelona, the authorities are launching an app to help tourists in Spain’s second city plan their itineraries and avoid congestion and queues.
Countries like Italy and Spain, where tourism accounts for about an eighth of GDP, are desperate to lure back visitors as they scramble to salvage the summer season.
But there are fears that a return to mass tourism could see a second spike in the pandemic.
Jose Luis Zoreda, vice-president of tourism lobby group Exceltur, told Reuters: “This is the most difficult situation the Spanish tourism sector has faced that anyone can remember.”
Tourists in Spain, which reopened its borders to most European visitors this week, will see changes from the moment they check in.
Some hotels are introducing air purifiers, thermal cameras to check guests’ temperatures, arches which spray them with disinfectant and mats with a bleach solution to clean their shoes and suitcase wheels.
In the morning, guests will not be able to jostle for their favourites at the breakfast buffet, but will be served by staff behind screens.
Madrid has recommended getting rid of buffets altogether.
Hotels will ask guests to use mobile apps for everything from ordering a cocktail to settling bills in order to reduce physical contact.
For clubbers, the summer looks set to be a washout.
Spain’s Balearic Islands – renowned for their hedonistic nightlife – have banned dancing at clubs and beach bars.
Some of the islands’ superclubs, which can hold thousands of revellers, are staying shut after being told they can only host up to 100 people outdoors. Small clubs must cover the dance floor with tables and chairs.