MADRID (Reuters) – Spain will make travellers from South Africa and Brazil go into quarantine for at least seven days following their arrival, Health Minister Carolina Darias said on Wednesday, part of efforts to quell more-transmissible variants of the coronavirus.
Those travellers will have to stay at home and not receive visitors for 10 days upon arrival – unless they test negative during their quarantine, Darias specified, in which case they would regain mobility after seven days.
“It is an absolutely necessary and urgent measure to avoid the propagation of those variants in our country,” Darias said, as she called on regions not to relax measures. “We need to learn from what happened in previous waves … because once the numbers go up it’s very hard to bring them down again.”
After a post-Christmas surge in which daily infections exceeded 40,000, Spain’s third wave is receding, with the two-week incidence falling to 350 cases per 100,000 people on Wednesday from 900 at the end of January.
The infection tally rose by 10,829 to 3.1 million on Wednesday, while the death toll increased by 337 to 66,316.
In the next phase of its national inoculation plan, Spain will administer AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine to people aged 45 to 55, the Health Ministry said.
The shot, currently approved for those between 18 and 55, is now being given to people in that age bracket with a high risk of contracting the virus, such as daycare workers and physiotherapists, as well as police, firefighters and teachers.
Most of Spain’s highest-priority nursing home residents and staff have already received two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, which are now being rolled out to over 80-year-olds and medics.
Those shots will be given next to those over 70 and then over 60, the ministry said, while people under 60 with a high risk of serious COVID-19 will be next.
Authorities have administered 2.7 million doses and 1.1 million people have received a full course in the population of about 47 million.
Several regions have relaxed limits on business opening hours and the hospitality sector, though curfews remain in force across Spain.
(Reporting by Nathan Allen and Clara-Laeila Laudette, editing by Giles Elgood and Grant McCool)