Spanish authorities have extended a ban on non-essential travel from most non-EU countries until at least September 30, as a precaution to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Countries within the Schengen area, as well as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China are exempt from the travel ban, as are long-term EU visa holders, health workers, diplomats, students, transport workers, and care workers, provided they provide adequate paperwork.
The decision came following the announcement that parts of the Madrid region are to go into lockdown from Monday, September 21, following an increase in COVID-19 cases in the city. Residents of some 37 of the worst affected districts are only permitted to leave their homes for work, school, seek medical care, or to purchase food. The measures are to be in place for two weeks. Social gatherings throughout the Madrid region are limited to six people, and in some areas public parks have closed and commercial businesses must cease operations at 22:00 (local time). A full list of measures and districts facing enhanced restrictions can be found here. Face masks and social distancing measures are mandatory in public places throughout Spain.
As of Monday, September 21, there have been 640,040 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Spain with 30,495 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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