Spain is safe for tourists, it said Sunday, rebuking Britain for imposing a two-week quarantine on all travelers entering the country from Spain because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Spain is safe, it is safe for Spaniards, it is safe for tourists," Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told reporters.
She said Spain would try to persuade Britain to exclude the Balearic and Canary Islands from the quarantine measure, contending that the prevalence of the virus in the two popular travel destinations was much lower than in Britain itself.
A year ago, Britons made up about a fifth of foreign visitors to Spain, meaning the British quarantine could deal a blow to the Mediterranean country’s efforts to jump start its economy after months of lockdown because of the virus.
But the number of COVID-19 cases has risen in Spain in the last few weeks, prompting Britain to announce late Saturday it was taking Spain off its safe-travel list. Hours later, the quarantine took effect.
It immediately upset travelers, with one British tourist saying, “Everyone is panicking."
But Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign minister, made no apologies for the sudden move, saying the measure is needed because of a recent jump in Spanish COVID-19 cases.
“We can’t make apologies … we must be able to take swift, decisive action,” he told Sky News.
Meanwhile, North Korea has reported its first suspected COVID-19 case, blaming an alleged defector who it said recently reentered the country. The government has denied the presence of any coronavirus infections for months.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, “The person was put under strict quarantine as a primary step and all the persons in Kaesong City who contacted that person and those who have been to the city in the last five days are being thoroughly investigated, given medical examination and put under quarantine.”
South Africa reported 12,000 new coronavirus cases Sunday. Its response to the pandemic, however, is being hampered by corruption allegations surrounding its $26 billion economic relief package. An investigation is under way.
South Africa has the fifth largest number of COVID-19 infections, with more than 434,000 cases.
The U.S. has the most cases at 4.1 million, followed by Brazil with 2.3 million, India with 1.3 million, and Russia with more than 800,000.