MADRID – Fresh coronavirus outbreaks in parts of Europe have prompted travel restrictions and rising concerns.
A number of countries have reimposed quarantines or advised against travel to Spain after a spike in infections in some regions.
Travel restrictions requiring anyone arriving in the UK from Spain to self-isolate for 14 days were reimposed by authorities on Sunday with less than 24-hour notice.
Authorities have also advised against Brits traveling to mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands.
Parts of Spain have seen a surge of COVID-19 infections in the last week, with the regions of Aragon and Catalonia particularly badly affected.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez described the decision as “unjust” and added that most tourist regions in Spain have lower infection rates than the UK.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the decision on Tuesday and said it had to be made quickly.
“What we have to do is take swift and decisive action where we think that the risks are starting to bubble up again,” he said during a visit to Nottinghamshire in England.
“Let’s be absolutely clear about what’s happening in Europe, amongst some of our European friends, I’m afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic.”
Sanchez said in an interview with the Telecinco TV channel that the Spanish government is “talking with British authorities to try to get them to reconsider.”
He added that the majority of new cases in Spain had been reported in two areas and that most of the country had lower rates of infection than the UK.
“We are, with all respect, in disagreement with the position of the Spanish Government on this,” Secretary of State for Local Administration Simon Clarke told the BBC on Tuesday.
The UK and Spain have been two of the worst-affected countries in Europe by the pandemic.
There have been 301,700 confirmed cases and 45,800 deaths in the UK and 278,700 infections and 28,400 fatalities in Spain.
German authorities have said they are “very concerned” about rising rates of infection in the country.
The government issued a travel warning on Tuesday for the three worst-affected regions in Spain: Aragon, Catalonia and Navarra.
Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s public health agency the Robert Koch Institute, said: “We are in the middle of a rapidly developing pandemic.”
“We don’t know yet if this is the beginning of a second wave but of course it could be,” he added.
“But I am optimistic that if we follow the hygiene rules, we can prevent it, it’s up to us.”
Health minister Jens Spahn announced on Monday that travelers returning from high risk countries will have to undergo COVID-19 testing when they return.
Ute Rexroth of the RKI said most of the infections in the country have been transmitted domestically.
“It’s family get-togethers, weddings, meetings with friends, outbreaks in workplaces, in hostels, community centers, care homes, old-people’s homes and hospitals,” she added.
Wieler highlighted that Germany has managed to control the pandemic in recent months better than other countries and that this had been due to the population respecting social distancing rules.
There have been 207,353 confirmed infections, of which 190,796 patients have recovered from the disease and 9,292 have died, according to officials.
A total of 19 coronavirus patients are currently being treated in intensive care units in the country.