Where are you most safe from the coronavirus?
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has challenged the UK government’s decision and said tourists would be safer in most parts of Spain than in the UK.
At first glance, Covid-19 appears to be more prevalent and spreading rapidly in Spain compared to the UK nationally.
The number of new cases detected is more than three times higher in Spain than in the United Kingdom in the last two weeks. The number of new cases in Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands, stands at 47.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 12.7 per 100,000 inhabitants in the UK in the two weeks to July 26. Additionally, the rate of R, which indicates the speed of transmission of the virus, is higher at 1.25 in Spain compared to 0.7 to 0.9 in the UK.
However, there are great variations in the two countries. Although some areas of Spain have seen a sharp increase in the number of detected cases in recent weeks, some areas of England are reporting similar case rates in some areas of Spain.
It’s also important to keep in mind that no country knows the actual number of people with the virus at any given time and the number of new cases depends on testing. The UK appears to have performed more tests per 100,000 population than Spain, at a rate of 1.7 from 0.68 as of July 16, according to figures from Our World in Data.
Is the quarantine restriction for all travelers arriving from Spain justified?
Nationally, Spain is reporting a higher number of new cases of Covid-19 and a faster spread of the virus. However, there are very clear regional differences.
Only six regions in Spain, mostly concentrated in the northeast of the country, have reported more new cases than parts of the UK. Aragon, Navarre, Catalonia, the Basque Country and La Rioja as well as the capital, Madrid, have all reported more new cases compared to anywhere in the UK over the past two weeks. In the UK, Yorkshire and the Humber currently have the highest number of new cases, at 25.8 per 100,000 people in the two weeks to July 25.
Nine Spanish regions, including key tourist destinations, have seen fewer new cases than the UK average of 12.7 in the past two weeks. The Canaries and Balearic Islands, which were also covered when restrictions were extended on Monday, in particular have a low rate of new cases, 7.1 and 9.2 respectively.
The large disparities in the number of new cases could raise additional questions about the general restrictions applied to people arriving from Spain.
Are other countries likely to be removed from the list of travel corridors?
There is no agreed definition of what constitutes a second wave and the threshold of what could lead to a change in the UK government’s travel advice is still unclear.
The number of new cases has also increased in France and Germany. France has seen a 49% increase in the number of new Covid-19 cases in a week – from 3,922 to 5,854 in the week through July 25, and in Germany cases have increased by 30%, from 2,409 to 3,141 during the same period. Although the growth of new cases has not been as pronounced as in Spain, the two countries have come under increased international surveillance in recent days.
More than 70 countries are currently on the travel corridor list, which means people can still travel to England from these countries and may not have to self-isolate on arrival.