Health minister insists Spain is ‘safe destination’ after travel restrictions

Palamós, Spain, Aug 1 (efe-epa).- Spain’s health minister insisted on Saturday the country is a “safe destination” for tourists after rising infections and renewed travel restrictions imposed by other nations.

Several European countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, have reimposed quarantines or advised against trips to Spain after a spike of infections in some regions.

Spanish health minister Salvador Illa praised the country’s regional authorities for implementing restrictions to contain fresh outbreaks.

“If they are complied with, Spain is a safe destination,” he said at a conference in Palamós, Girona.

Parts of Spain have seen a surge of Covid-19 infections in recent weeks, with the regions of Catalonia, Aragon and Navarre particularly badly affected.

Illa said more than 70 percent of outbreaks had affected less than 10 people and that 60 percent of those who have tested positive were asymptomatic.

“We are in a controlled scenario,” he stressed and added that the figures were the result of an early detection effort.

He warned that a “very high percentage” of new cases were linked to nightlife and spoke in favor of measures for this sector.

The minister urged the public “not to be afraid of the virus, but to respect it”.

He expressed his support for restrictions imposed by Spain’s autonomous communities, particularly Catalonia which put around 160,000 residents back into lockdown to contain an outbreak in the city of Lleida.

He said the pressure on Spain’s hospital was “still low” and 50,000 PCR tests were being carried out every working day.

The average age of new Covid-19 patients is 45 years and the majority of cases have been mild, the minister added.

He repeated previous calls for young people to comply with recommendations from health authorities and warned that they can transmit the virus to their families.

The renewed travel restrictions were a huge blow to Spain’s efforts to revive its tourism sector, which accounts for some 12 percent of the nation’s annual GDP.

Spanish health authorities have reported a rise in Covid-19 cases since the state of alarm, the mechanism that underpinned the strict lockdown expired. At that time, daily cases were at minimal levels.

Spain was one of Europe’s worst-affected countries by the pandemic and has registered more than 288,500 cases and more than 28,400 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University in the United States. EFE-EPA


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