Spain restricts flights from Brazil and South Africa due to coronavirus strains


Government asks regional leaders not to rush into lifting measures as pandemic continues to produce new infection and fatality highs

Spain has announced restrictions on inbound flights from Brazil and South Africa in a bid to stop the spread of new strains of the coronavirus detected in those countries.

The measure goes into effect at 9am on Wednesday and will last at least two weeks. Government spokesperson María Jesús Montero said that the only flights to Spain allowed from those countries will be those carrying passengers who are either citizens or residents of Spain or Andorra, or passengers in transit with stopovers of under 24 hours who will not be able to leave the airport transit area.

The announcement comes as the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic continues to produce new epidemiological records across the Spanish territory.

On Tuesday, the northeastern region of Galicia reported 40 single-day fatalities, the highest figure since the pandemic began. In the southern region of Andalusia, that figure was 107, also a new peak since the beginning of the pandemic.

In the Mediterranean province of Alicante, the 14-day incidence rate has soared to 2,597 cases per 100,000 people, twice the average for the whole of the Valencia region (1,352), according to the regional daily Diario Información citing Valencian health department figures. This is three times the national average of 865 cases per 100,000, which is already far higher than the threshold for what is considered an extreme risk scenario.We can’t be in a rush with the deescalation. I am not addressing any region in particularMARÍA JESÚS MONTERO, GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON

In seven regions of Spain, Covid-19 patients now occupy over 50% of intensive care beds, with that figure rising to over 60% in La Rioja, the Valencia region and the North Africa exclave city of Melilla.

On Tuesday, María Jesús Montero insisted on the need to keep up the restrictions. “The epidemiological situation will have to be assessed regularly to adjust schedules and mobility,” she said after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “We can’t be in a rush with the deescalation. I am not addressing any region in particular.”

In Madrid, regional premier Isabel Díaz Ayuso defended her strategy of keeping food and drink establishments open, a decision that other regional leaders have questioned in recent days, including some from her own Popular Party (PP). “I cannot engage in confrontation with other regional leaders,” she said. “The Madrid economy works in a certain way, and those of other regions have other peculiarities.”

Also in the Spanish capital, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez has tested positive for coronavirus, said the club in a statement, adding that Pérez “has no symptoms.”

Health Minister Carolina Darias on Monday urged regional governments to expand their coronavirus measures in order to “bring down the numbers faster.” Under the current state of alarm approved by parliament in October, regions are in charge of introducing their own restrictions, and each one has adopted different systems, with an overnight curfew being the only nationwide measure in place.


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