SPAIN has admitted a coronavirus second wave may already be underway as the UK air bridge faces being axed and France threatens to close the border.
There were 971 new cases yesterday – 241 more than the previous day and a record since the end of the country’s state of emergency.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
It took the number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in the nation since the start of the pandemic to 270,166.
The Sun revealed this week that the surge could lead to the collapse of the air bridge between the UK and Spain, meaning Brit tourists could be forced to quarantine on their return home.
And a worrying spike in the northeast region of Catalonia has prompted fears France could shut its border with the country.
Droves of Brits have already flocked to the Costas and Balearics but now risk being forced to undergo border measures on their return.
And despite Whitehall sources saying Spain, or parts of it, could be thrown off the “safe” list of travel destinations, the Foreign Office confirmed today the country currently remains on its quarantine exemption list.
However, UK officials are said to be closely monitoring the situation.
Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa insisted the country was a safe travel destination earlier this week.
Hours later Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto tried to put a positive on an increasingly worrying situation amid concern over the French border.
He insisted the health situation in Catalonia and Aragon, the country’s two worst affected areas, was “getting better”.
Deputy emergency health director Maria Jose Sierra, speaking ahead of Spain’s possible exclusion from Downing Street’s quarantine green list, said: “We have important outbreaks.
“It could be a second wave. We’ll have to see what happens in the next few weeks.”
It was the first time a senior Spanish health official had used the expression since a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases following the end of the country’s state of emergency on June 21.
Catalonia, which borders France, has been at the heart of a rebound in coronavirus cases since Spain lifted a nationwide lockdown one month ago.
Nearly 7,000 cases have been logged there in the past 14 days, nearly half the nationwide total, though the rate has dropped sharply in the past days.
Tourism Minister Maroto said a resurgence in cases in the region was coming under control and she hoped there would be no need for France to close the border.
She said: “Let’s hope that with this better data we don’t have to close a border that for us is very important for mobility with our European partners.”
Catalan leader Quim Torra also ruled out returning to a strict lockdown, telling the regional parliament: “Catalonia can’t be closed.”
Since the lockdown was lifted, tourists in some Spanish destinations have been forced to queue for things like visiting the beach.
Josep Maria Argimon, the secretary of Public Health of Catalonia, admitted its health system was facing “critical days.”
He added: “We’re not in critical days like in March, when our hospital intensive care units were full.
“Now what’s critical is that people follow all the rules and guidelines to ensure the spread of the virus slows down.”
The municipality of Totana in Murcia, south east Spain, yesterday became the latest to be hit with a new lockdown after an outbreak centred on a pub called Dubai.
More than 50 people at the nightspot tested positive for the virus.
Around 30,000 residents are affected by the Totana lockdown, with entry and exit into the municipality banned except in cases of extreme necessity.
Restaurants and bars are only allowed to open outside terrace areas with 50 per cent capacity.
Restrictions on late night bars and discos have been implemented in several Spanish towns and regions ahead of what is being seen as a critical weekend for Spain’s attempts to turn the tide in its battle against a second wave of cases.
Catalan president Quim Torra has admitted nightclubs could be shut across the region.
Murcia is only allowing late night bars and discos to serve customers in outdoors areas like terraces, making it impractical for many of them to stay open.
Spanish epidemiologist Juan Jose Badiola said he could not rule out a national return to the draconian state of emergency lockdown, when people were ordered to stay indoors unless it was to go to buy food or head to the chemist’s.
He told Spanish TV station Telecinco: “I would like to think we don’t have to go back to that but I can’t rule it out completely because the rate of new infections is becoming very worrying.”
Any change to the current situation would affect thousands of British tourists currently enjoying the sun in the UK’s favourite holiday destination.