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Travel: Spain imposes mandatory quarantine on arrivals from India over virus strain fears

Spain will make all travellers arriving from India undergo a 10-day quarantine to prevent the potential spread of the Asian country’s coronavirus variant within the Spanish territory.

Travel: Spain imposes mandatory quarantine on arrivals from India over virus strain fears
Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP

Spanish government spokesperson María Jesús Montero made the announcement on Tuesday, explaining that as there are no direct flights between Spain and India, it isn’t possible for Spain to adopt measures such as banning arrivals outright as other European countries have done.

The quarantine requirement for travellers arriving to Spain from India starts on May 1st 2021.

India joins a number of South American and African nations that are already on Spain’s quarantine list to stem the spread of the Brazilian and South African variants. 

According to the Spanish government’s website, those “coming from the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Republic of South Africa, Republic of Botswana, Union of Comoros, Republic of Ghana, Republic of Kenya, Republic of Mozambique, United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Zambia, Republic of Zimbabwe, Republic of Peru and Republic of Colombia, must remain in quarantine for 10 days after their arrival in Spain, or for the duration of their stay if it is shorter than that. This period may end earlier, if on the seventh day the person is tested for acute infection with negative results.”

India is currently battling a record-breaking rise in Covid-19 infections that has overwhelmed hospitals and led to severe bed and oxygen shortages.

A key question is whether a new variant with potentially worrying mutations – B.1.617 – is behind what is currently the world’s fastest-growing outbreak, setting four records in a row for the highest daily coronavirus infections by one country, the latest on Sunday with 349,691 new cases.

The country has also been recording around 3,000 deaths per day from Covid-19. 

Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands have all imposed restrictions or travel bans on arrivals from India in recent days.

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“No cases of the Indian variant have been detected to date to my knowledge,” Spain’s Emergencies Coordinator Chief Fernando Simón told journalists on Monday. 

“The intel does not indicate that we have to worry about it,” he added, given that the UK variant now makes up 94 percent of all infections in Spain. 

“We cannot rule out that a case (of the Indian variant) may be detected”, Simón admitted, but “so far it is not a variant of concern, it is a variant of interest”.

Patients breath with the help of oxygen masks inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a Covid-19 coronavirus ward in New Delhi on April 27th, 2021. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP)

That is not a view shared by Amós José García Rojas , president of the Spanish Association of Vaccinations (AEV), who argues “we have to worry a lot” about the “chaos” that this new variant is leaving in the Asian country and why it could affect the spread of this strain of the virus.

“This new variant is fundamentally worrying because of what it is causing in India,” Rojas told medical publication Redacción Médica. 

“It shows that as there are territories where people are largely not vaccinated, there’s many people who are susceptible to the virus and it creates a breeding ground for the development of new variants”.

“We cannot vaccinate comprehensively in some countries and forget about other countries at the mercy of God.

“We have to worry about everyone because there is a risk that situations like the one seen in India will happen again. 

So far, the B.1.617 variant has been categorised by the World Health Organisation as a “variant of interest”.

Other variants detected in Brazil, South Africa and the UK have been categorised as “of concern”, because they are more transmissible, virulent or might reduce antibody efficacy.

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COVID-19

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden ‘to peak at end of September’

Sweden's Public Health Agency has warned of a new autumn wave of Covid-19 which it expects to peak at the end of September.

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden 'to peak at end of September'

According to both of the two new scenarios published by the agency on Monday, infection rates are set to rise steadily over the next month, something the agency said was due to a falling immunity in the population and greater contact between people as they return to schools and workplaces after the summer. 

“It is difficult to say how high the peak will be, but it is unlikely that it will reach the same levels as in January and February,” the agency’s unit chief Sara Byfors said in a press release. “The most important thing is that people in risk groups and those who are 65 years old and above get vaccinated with a booster dose in the autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Under Scenario 0, the amount of contact between people stays at current levels, leading to a peak in reported Covid-19 cases at around 5,000 a day. In Scenario 1, contact between people increases by about 10 percent from the middle of August, leading to a higher peak of about 7,000 reported cases a day. 

The agency said that employers should be prepared for many staff to be off sick simultaneously at points over the next month, but said in its release that it did not judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to require either it or the government to impose additional infection control measures. 

It was important, however, it said, that those managing health and elderly care continued to test those with symptoms and to track the chain of infections, that people go and get the booster doses when they are supposed to have under the vaccination programme, and that those who have symptoms of Covid-19 stay home. 

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