It all started last week, when hundreds of young people tested positive – of the alpha variant first discovered in the UK, according to authorities – in different parts of Spain, returning from a week of celebration on the island of Mallorca, where they had gone to celebrate the end of the cycle.
According to Health Ministry data, at least 1,824 people have been infected and 5,978 have been forced into quarantine.
Local media reported that at least one young man from the Valencia region ended up in intensive care on Monday due to illness.
Fernando Simon, the chief epidemiologist at Spain’s health ministry, said on Monday that meetings between students turned out to be a “perfect breeding ground” for transmission from multiple sources. To date, at least 11 regions have detected cases arising from this outbreak.
In the Madrid region alone, 778 people have tested positive for the virus, including 662 students. In addition, 2,886 cases have been placed in quarantine, local officials told AFP.
On Wednesday, 86 passengers were quarantined on a flight between Mallorca and Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, northwest), after 49 passengers tested positive, including several students.
Local authorities said the Palma Belver Hotel, nicknamed the “Covid Hotel”, houses 232 students who are directly or indirectly linked to the students’ trips to Mallorca. After testing, 25% of them tested positive for the coronavirus.
Images of young men kept in this oceanfront hotel, chanting “We’re passive, we want out”, or displaying letters on towels strewn on balconies, occupied the front pages of Spanish newspapers.
While cases multiply, criticism continues to be directed at the authorities and young people, who, due to Spain’s strict vaccination regime – due to restricted age groups – are still unable to get vaccinated.
Local police also confirmed to AFP that they had to intervene several times in the hotel, after receiving complaints from neighbors about loud music or throwing things in the street.
Even in quarantine, young people, for example, continued to drink alcoholic beverages, thanks to buckets hung on the hotel balconies with the help of sheets.
The parents of many of these young people have gone to court to demand that the quarantine imposed on their children be rescinded. The measure granted by the judge this Wednesday, in the case of students who received a negative result.
However, the students will be able to return to Valencia on Thursday on a chartered boat, according to authorities.
The outbreak of Covid-19 in Mallorca comes after the epidemiological situation in Spain has improved in recent weeks, thanks to progress in the vaccination campaign.
According to the latest government data, 36% of 47 million Spaniards have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and more than half of the population (52.7%) have received at least one dose.