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Spain reopens to tourists as lockdown ends amid surge in global spread


Defiant: Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Reuters/Adriano Machado

Defiant: Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Reuters/Adriano Machado

Defiant: Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Reuters/Adriano Machado

Spain reopened its borders to European tourists yesterday in a bid to kickstart its economy while Brazil and South Africa struggled with rising coronavirus infections.

The head of the World Health Organisation has warned that the global spread of the virus is accelerating after a daily high of 150,000 new cases was reported last week.

The new coronavirus has infected more than 8.8 million people and killed more than 464,000, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University. The true number is thought to be much higher because many cases go untested.

Spain yesterday ended a national state of emergency after three months of lockdown, allowing its 47 million residents to freely travel around the country for the first time since March 14. Spain also dropped a 14-day quarantine for visitors from Ireland, Britain and other European countries to boost its vital tourism sector.

But there was only a trickle of travellers at Madrid-Barajas Airport, which on a normal June day would be bustling.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez urged people to exercise maximum public health precautions, saying that even though Europe is stabilising, the virus is running rampant on other continents.

Germany's disease control agency says new cases of coronavirus need to be "closely monitored" after the rate of reproduction rose sharply over the weekend. Both the measurements Germany's Robert Koch Institute uses to assess the progress of the coronavirus rose over the value of two yesterday, well above the critical value of one.

The institute explained that a small number of local outbreaks had skewed the results. The most severe outbreak hit Gutersloh, where more than 1,000 workers at a slaughterhouse tested positive.

The number of confirmed virus cases is still growing rapidly in Brazil, South Africa, the US and other countries, especially in Latin America.

Brazil's health ministry said the total number of cases had risen by more than 50,000 in a day. President Jair Bolsonaro has been downplaying virus risks even as his country has seen nearly 50,000 fatalities in three months, the second-highest death toll in the world.

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South Africa reported a one-day high of 4,966 new cases on Saturday and 46 deaths. Despite the increase, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a further loosening of one of the world's strictest lockdowns. Casinos, beauty salons and sit-down restaurant service will reopen.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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