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In Spain - 10 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 36 hrs + updates

Hi all, while most of the attention has been on Italy these past few days, I just wanted to share some developments in Spain, since the past 36 hrs there has been a spike of COVID-19 cases, mainly from Italians visiting Spain, the totals - 4 in Tenerife (Islas Canarias), 2 in Madrid, 2 in Catalonia (Barcelona), 1 in Castellon (near Valencia), and 1 in Sevilla. The Spanish health ministry has since recommended Spaniards restrict non-essential travel abroad.

You can read more here, from one of our national newspapers El Pais (English Version) - https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-02-26/madrid-confirms-first-case-of-coronavirus.html

Posted by
72 posts

...and then, it seems it´s just another flu with a very limited impact on our health, if you don´t previously suffer from any other conditions. Are we overreacting? I´d think so, seeing that standard flu infects and kills far more persons per year than this COVID-19.

Posted by
1791 posts

I agree, but I think from a travelers perspective, the major worry could be the potential for such an overreaction, like what happen in that hotel in Tenerife, where 1000s of tourists are now quarantined all in the same hotel.

Posted by
72 posts

Agreed, I do think we are overreacting to a simple flu and that we´ll soon forget about it (when temperatures rise, the virus dies at 37ºC) and people stop getting infected (again, a paracetamol is the best solution in the vast majority of cases)

Posted by
240 posts

The US embassy is worrying now, they have sent out an alert.

Embassy of the United States of America/Madrid, Spain

Consulate General of the United States of America/Barcelona, Spain
Health Alert – U.S. Mission Spain (February 26, 2020)
Location: Spain
Event: The Spanish Ministry of Health reports that it is currently testing some suspected cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread among Tenerife (Canary Islands), Madrid, Catalonia, and Valencia. Affected individuals are in isolation, following Spanish medical protocols. These are in addition to the two cases that were previously confirmed earlier this month.

Actions to Take:
For Information:
· Call 061 (if you are in Spain) for medical assistance/questions concerning COVID-19 in Spain.
· Consult the Spanish Health Ministry and CDC website for updates.
· Review the Department of State’s COVID-19 Travel Alert.
· Check with your hotel, airline, other service provider regarding cancellations related to COVID-19.

Prevention:
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

Assistance:
· U.S. Embassy Madrid, Spain
+34-915-872-200
AskACS@state.gov
http://es.usembassy.gov

· U.S. Consulate General Barcelona, Spain
+34-932-802-227
BarcelonaACS@state.gov
http://es.usembassy.gov

· State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

Posted by
1511 posts

Folks - We just have to do our due diligence and assess the risk before traveling to a particular country. We can't let fear of this virus deprive us from enjoying what we are passionate about which is travel. Be smart travelers and look for updates on the CDC website and be aware of your surroundings. We all have one life to live so let's all keep living our lives and enjoy doing what we love. There will always be new viruses that will emerge in future and create panic. We need to educate ourselves and practice prevention.

Posted by
5017 posts

I agree we need to stay calm, be rational, and follow common-sense precautions. Most of all, we need to deal with science and facts, and not get our info from random people and places on the internet.

I do think we are overreacting to a simple flu and that we´ll soon forget about it (when temperatures rise, the virus dies at 37ºC)

The above assertion does not square with the facts. Despite nonsense about the virus disappearing as soon as spring arrives, it has shown to be quite capable of spreading and thriving in places where the weather is warm: Thailand and Singapore for example. While most influenza outbreaks do tend to rise in the winter and decline somewhat in the warmer months, a little sunshine may not be enough.

Posted by
8 posts

Ok, this is not a European trip but folks on this forum provide sound advice. Traveling to Australia next month for a wedding. Worth it to buy trip insurance when it only covers a quarantine situation, not a WHO or CDC issued epidemic? Also, Australia is only worrying about folks with direct access to China in preceding 14 days. Thanks!

Posted by
5017 posts

@bundej - Your question has nothing to do with Spain. Repost your question in the "Beyond Europe" forum to keep things organized (and you'll get better responses).

Posted by
73 posts

Many who travel to Europe where cases of Covid 19 are occurring may end up having a great vacation without getting sick, getting stuck in a quarantine , or missing tourist sites due to closures. Heck, they may even enjoy less crowds, who knows? However, for those who worry about encountering the negatives while on holiday, those concerns are real to them and they should make their own decisions based on the currently known facts and their particular health status. Others should not make the decision for them on whether they should postpone their trip or not.

Posted by
1791 posts

Update - while cases have been steadily climbing in Spain these past few days, a bit of good news as doctors in Sevilla develop first effective treatment of Coronavirus, using innovative HIV drugs. A woman in her 60s from Sevilla infected with Coronavirus and complications of pneumonia has seen significant improvement using an experimental AIDS treatment.

You can read more here - https://elpais.com/sociedad/2020-02-28/un-farmaco-contra-el-sida-tiene-exito-en-la-cura-del-primer-contagio-por-coronavirus.html

Posted by
5017 posts

Thank you for sharing the hopeful news. It's nice to hear something promising for a change.

Posted by
893 posts

I agree that we don’t need to panic but I don’t see this outbreak as a simple “ flu” that paracetamol would help much but for minor aches and pains.

There is a flu vaccine that helps to protect by way of the “ herd” immunity. There is no such thing with this virus and many more would die from influenza without the benefit of the herd immunity. Are we all going to get the virus, no, but if it escalates as in China, then we do have an issue! Who knows if China has been forthcoming? My guess is they have not.
Washing ones hands is a must but the virus is airborne so not much we can do to prevent that type of spread if in a hotel, on a cruise, a train, restaurant, or on an airplane, etc.

Posted by
1791 posts

UPDATE (10.3.20.)

With the dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases and fatalities in Spain, just this past day, now surpassing France and Germany, the Spanish Government has begun taking more drastic containment steps. The Community of Madrid has been the hardest hit so far, accounting for half of the COVID-19 cases (around 700) in Spain. New measures will include:

  • Direct flights between Spain and Italy will be banned until March 25th

  • All collective activities are suspended in enclosed spaces with more than 1000 people in Madrid, La Rioja, and Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque Country.

  • Public transport will be sanitized daily in Madrid

  • A few hotels (just one chain as of yet) in Madrid will close starting today

  • All professional sports will now be played behind closed doors

  • Schools in Madrid and the Basque County have been suspended

In essence, Spain is playing catch-up to what France and Germany have already been doing. It's still a fluid situation and more new measures are sure to be announced soon.

You can read more here: https://english.elpais.com/

Posted by
72 posts

Just a point, just schools in Labastida (1300 inhabitants), Laguardia (1200 inhabitants) and in Vitoria-Gasteiz (230.000 inhabitants) have been suspended for 15 days, not all over the Basque Country (at present, Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastian are in the watch, but situation is completely normal). Situation in the streets is business as usual, no masks, no gloves so far, but number of cases increasing, as everywhere else. The virus is thought to spread worldwide, reach a peak in two weeks, and if contention measures work, start slowly descending.

Posted by
2626 posts

Glad my trip isn’t until later in the year since a number of places on my “to see” list are in the Labastida, Laguardia, and La Rioja region. Thank you for the update.

Posted by
12 posts

There are 2 conversations that seem to be happening here:

  1. People who are worried they may get COVID-19, and those who say the risk is low and feel travel is still safe.

  2. People who have a trip planned to Spain and are worried that upon arrival, most of what they came to see and experience will be shut down due to government closures.

My concern is #2. I am not worried about contracting the virus, but I don't want my first trip to Spain to be with empty streets, closed restaurants, cancelled tours, and no public transportation. I travel in 17 days, and seeing how it all went down in Italy, I think we should postpone our trip for a year. I'd love everyone's opinion on this.

Posted by
13 posts

I am going to Spain in a week. I am concerned about things that I want to see being closed, so I am keeping an eye on the situation. My travel insurance would only cover if there were a travel ban but, otherwise I am committed, especially since none of my rooms are refundable. I highly doubt I would get the coronavirus and even if I did I would recover fine. The odds of it being serious is highly unlikely. I suppose if things are closed down I would have to just explore the closed towns and take taxis or uber if public transportation is closed. It would be a bummer but, postponing the trip won't solve the problem. The virus will spread to more cities and countries as the months go on. It is not going away and postponing the trip will only "kick the can down the road." It will not solve the problem. The virus is here to stay and a vaccine is a year or more away. That is my 2 cents.

Posted by
240 posts

The Embassy has sent out their warning:
Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Madrid, U.S. Consulate General Barcelona (10 March 2020)

Location: Spain
Event: There is an ongoing outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) first identified in Wuhan, China. The global public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high, with more than 100,000 reported cases worldwide. On March 10, 2020, the Spanish Ministry of Health announced 1,622 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 35 related deaths throughout Spain.

As of March 11, appointments for consular services at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and the U.S. Consulate General in Barcelona will be limited, and the five U.S. consular agencies throughout Spain (Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Malaga, Sevilla, Valencia) will provide only emergency services to U.S. citizens.

COVID-19 cases have been detected in all of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions and the number of identified infections is currently increasing. The regional government of Madrid has ordered the closure of schools and universities, restricted access to nursing homes to visits deemed strictly necessary and has closed senior citizen daycare centers from March 11-26, 2020.

The regional government of the Basque Country has ordered the closure of schools and universities in Vitoria until March 25, 2020.

La Rioja regional government has closed schools and universities until March 26, 2020.

U.S. military personnel stationed at Naval Station Rota in southern Spain are restricted from traveling to Madrid, La Rioja, and Basque Country until further notice.

All direct flights from Italy to Spain are cancelled from March 11-26, 2020.

Visit the local government COVID-19 website for updated information.

Actions to Take:

· Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.

· For the most recent information on what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 please see the CDC’s latest recommendations.
Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov for the latest information.
Check with your airlines or cruise lines regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
· Visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Spain.
· Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the U.S.
· Call emergency numbers 112 and 061 right away if you believe you may have COVID-19 (or similar symptoms) or were exposed to someone who may have COVID-19 in the last six weeks. For a list of local COVID-19 emergency numbers, please visit this website.

Posted by
240 posts

Jaime and Mike we will see how things evolve here in La Rioja. The first infections here were in Haro, and were some people who attended a funeral in Vitoria.

The ones who tested positive were gypsies. They have had a problem keeping them in cuarantine. It has quickly spread to Logroño and some other parts of La Rioja. As mentioned by the Embassy, they have closed the schools here for 15 days. Depending on how much weight you put on the US Govt, but

U.S. military personnel stationed at Naval Station Rota in southern Spain are restricted from traveling to Madrid, La Rioja, and Basque Country until further notice

We will see.

Posted by
291 posts

@dlindstrom
"The ones who tested positive were gypsies".
Are you sure you don't mean humans?
This is the kind of dangerous chatter which could portend all kinds of unwanted and unseen consequences.
Were they Proterstant gypsies, Catholic gypsies or Evangelical gypsies? Blue-eyed gypsies? Or maybe they were gay or transgender gypsies?
Viruses attack and attach themselves to living organisms regardless of gender, faith, ethnicity, color, class, poltical persuasion, intelligence, knowledge, common sense and artificially contrived levels of 'goodness'.
All a virus needs is a 'good host' — not a scapegoat.

Posted by
240 posts

Bill the gypsy part is important. The people in Haro broke the quarantine because they felt it was unfair. They said that had they been payas they wouldnt have been quarantined.

Posted by
1511 posts

I have a feeling Carlos many of the processions held for the Semana Santa celebration will be canceled as well. It's too risky right now to have gatherings of large crowds. The safety of the public is the uttermost importance.

Posted by
408 posts

My trip to Andalucia, and Madrid and Toledo, is in October. Unless I have to cancel it. So far I have plane tickets, and certain hotel reservations that can be canceled up to May 4th, and other hotel reservations that can be canceled until as late as the week before my travel dates... some of these places are hostels... I am a solo man traveler. If this matters I am 36, in average to good health with no known health problems... my great grandfather with my same last name had a heart attack and dropped dead just before he turned 40, my mom is a highly anxious person who is afraid of travel...

Should I cancel my hostels and switch to all private rooms? I have not gotten sick from other travelers in hostels yet... I have stayed in ten hostels so far... I have stayed in some private rooms in low-end hotels... I prefer to assume I will just never get sick on any trip but I guess in theory catching a disease while traveling is possible...

Posted by
16581 posts

I can't comment on the hotel-vs.-hostel issue, but in the current environment, I wouldn't want to have October hotel reservations that become non-cancellable on May 4. I would cancel them before that date and book replacements that don't have to be canceled until shortly before arrival.

I certainly hope COVID-19 is dead and gone well before October, but we just don't know. You will want to get your Alhambra ticket when those become available for your travel period, but I think that's just 14 euros, not that big a financial risk. A non-refundable multi-day hotel reservation is a completely different matter, and being locked in this early isn't necessary; October is not Holy Week. Even if you got a discount by choosing reservations that have to be canceled 5 months in advance, I don't think it's worth it this year. (I'd say "ever", but obviously a fair number of others disagree with me; see all the reports here from folks stuck with non-refundable hotel reservations for trips they don't want to take right now.)

Posted by
1791 posts

UPDATE (13/3/2020)

From the Prime Minster of Spain in a televised address to the nation -

"Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has declared a state of emergency (estado de alarma) over the coronavirus pandemic which will come into effect on Saturday.

It follows news earlier today that the number of deaths recorded in Spain jumped 40% in one day to 120. The number of confirmed infections has now reached 4,209.

The state of emergency - or "state of alarm" - allows the government to take wide-ranging measures, these include:

  • limiting the movement of people or vehicles
  • ordering evacuations
  • prohibiting access to certain areas or places
  • intervening in areas of industry and farming

The government will be able to implement the emergency measures for a maximum of 15 days, but will then require Spanish parliamentary approval to extend them."

No official word yet on cancellation of Semana Santa Festivities, but it's almost certain they will in the coming days.

You can read more here - https://english.elpais.com/politics/2020-03-13/spanish-government-declares-state-of-alarm-in-bid-to-combat-coronavirus-spread.html

Additionally, the Community of Madrid has ordered restaurants and bars to close from Saturday onward to slow the coronavirus spread - https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-03-13/madrid-orders-restaurants-and-bars-to-close-from-saturday-onward-to-slow-coronavirus-spread.html

Posted by
1791 posts

Americans flee Spain as country declares state of emergency
From CNN's Laura Perez Maestro in Madrid

US citizens are waving goodbye to Spain as the country declared a state of emergency and President Trump sharply restricted travel to the United States from more than two dozen European countries.

After three days of quarantine measures, Madrid's public transport was deserted, main roads were traffic-free and department stores in the city center were almost empty.

Schools, libraries and theaters were closed, with even outdoor playgrounds sealed off.

Sarah Nagy and Graham Owen, from Montana, told CNN they were "thinking of leaving while we still can."

“Our parents back home think it will be the same there soon, they would like us around,” they added.

Courtney Seeley, a 21-year-old student from Boston, Massachusetts, who had been doing an internship in Madrid, told CNN at the airport: “I was calm until the school told us we had to go home, they even bought the flights for us, they were very expensive.

"My parents are very worried, I hope to be able to come back soon and finish my internship."

James Donoghue, 21, was studying in London and in Madrid visiting Seeley. “My school wrote to me saying we had to go back home and leave Europe so here we are trying to leave Spain," he said.

David and Lucenda Presnall, both 71, told CNN their son had helped them change their tickets before the ban was announced, but they had heard others spending $1,400 to get out before Friday's deadline.

“We had a whole month planned in Spain, we had nine wonderful days," said Lucenda, from St. Louis, Missouri. "Then we saw what is happening to Italy and thought the same would happen here. My son really wanted us to come back.

“In Granada, where we were, people weren’t taking precautions, that worried us."

There have been more than 4,000 cases and 120 deaths in Spain. More than 62 countries have placed restrictions on flights from Spain, and Morocco suspended all air and sea travel to the country.

Posted by
2494 posts

Life in Barcelona is slowing down but it's not stalled (for now).

Posted by
1791 posts

Yes but in the municipalities only a few minutes west of Barcelona is a totally different scenario, with mass quarantines of up to 70,000 people. It reminds me of what Italy tried to do early on when they quarantined those small towns in the north, it did not do much to the stop the spread, especially to the bigger regional capitals like Milan.

Context for those not familiar with the current situation in Catalonia - https://english.elpais.com/society/2020-03-13/catalan-authorities-confine-70000-residents-of-four-municipalities-in-bid-to-slow-coronavirus-infections.html

On a side note: la dia de Sant Jordi in Barcelona may be a little different this time around...

Posted by
29 posts

We are scheduled for the May 17th Spain trip, arriving May 10th. At this point I'm more worried about getting out of Spain than the virus. We have already cancelled all our hotels and car rentals. Since American just announced a no fee cancellation, the RS tour is the only thing left. In the remote chance that the RS Spain trip is on and we travel, there will plenty of hotels to choose from. We've resigned ourselves to Spain in 2021

Posted by
1735 posts

I work for a Spanish based company...got an email early this morning about the lock down. The company has sent all workers home, even those that work from offices internationally. I had plans to go to Barcelona with my daughter to celebrate her 40th birthday, planned last October. Travel April 26. We most likely will not be going. I bought travel insurance, but expect to loose $1000 or more on this trip. it's what the world is today, better some money than a life. And to those throughout that have said, "it's only a flu", or "I had my flu shot, so I'm good" Welcome to the real world. Now, stop buying toilet paper and hoarding other necessities, and start sharing with people in more need than you. Off my podium now... and back into staying home and knitting and watching the news.

Posted by
1791 posts

@Ellen - I agree, it's amazing how we talked about this situation at first, up-thread, that was only a few weeks ago! I'l admit I was skeptical at first, but now I see COVID-19 is no simple flu...

Posted by
73 posts

Have to agree with Ellen regarding the hoarding I am seeing in the U.S. at the stores. Just stop it people. It seems reasonable to get what you need for say a 2 week period, but not beyond that. Leave something for others especially for the elderly. My parents could not get T.P. or other personal care items at their weekly shopping trip. The elderly should not have to run all over town and be more stressed out. Some stores have limits, but even those seem too high for what is needed at home right now. My community has relatively low Covid 19 cases identified as of now. I think the media, stores, and officials could do more to mitigate this. I think the panic shopping just adds to people's fear.

Posted by
408 posts

I switched my hotel and hostel reservations to places that allow free cancellations up to 3 to 5 days in advance. My trip is in October so hopefully at that time, in case travel is not allowed or if the sites and museums will be closed, the airline won't let me loose the money I paid for my plane tickets....