Tuesday, 28th July, 2020

[Day 134]

Today was a much finer day than yesterday and although a trifle windy, so much more of a pleasant day for our daily walk to the park. There we met some of our old Waitrose friends by prior arrangement and spent a pleasant half-hour or so, mainly talking about cooking (about which I needed some advice from a much better cook). After they had left us, we got into a conversation with another couple of regular bench-occupiers talking about the ways in dogs (and cats) can occasionally dominate the house and make it their own (This is only theoretically true of Miggles, our adopted cat, as we never allow her into the house and, in truth, she is much more of an outdoor rather than than a lying-by-the-kitchen-hearth type of animal).

I have been trying to get my head around the exact causes of dispute between the UK and Spain over the application of quarantine regulations for travellers arriving (or arriving back) into the UK from Spain. Often, though, the figures are not comparable but here are some data I have gleaned from various sources:

While the outbreak remains under control in many parts of Spain, certain areas – in particular Catalonia in the north-east, which includes the city Barcelona, and the neighbouring region of Aragón – have seen a huge spike in infections.

According to data from the Spanish government, as of Monday, the infection rates in the Balearic and Canary Islands were 9.22 and 7.06 per 100,000 respectively.

The same data showed infection rates in Catalonia, which includes Barcelona, was 132.4 per 100,000, and 28.21 in Madrid.

Latest seven-day rates: July 21-27 (per 100,000)

Austria 10.3. Belgium 19.0. Denmark 4.6. France 8.7. Germany 4.6. Italy 2.8. Netherlands 7.1. Portugal 14.9. Spain 29.7. UK. 15.0

[Latest coronavirus news as of 5 pm on 28 July]

Europe is starting to see signs of a second wave, says UK prime minister

UK prime minister Boris Johnson today said Europe is starting to see signs of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. He said it is vital that people quarantine themselves when returning to the UK from places abroad where there are outbreaks. Johnson mentioned the government’s recent reintroduction of a 14-day quarantine requirement for travellers returning from Spain, and added: “We will continue, throughout the summer, to take such action where it is necessary.” Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez described the UK’s new rules and recommendations as “unjust” arguing that in most parts of Spain the prevalence of Covid-19 is lower than in the UK. Some parts of Spain, including the regions of Catalonia and Aragón, have seen a large uptick in infections recently. The rate of infection in Spain as a whole is 47.2 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 15 in the UK, according to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

A growing number of European countries are grappling with recent rises in coronavirus cases. Today the head of Germany’s public health agency, Lothar Wieler said he is very concerned by rising infections. “We don’t know yet if this is the beginning of a second wave but of course it could be,” Wielder said at a press conference. Belgium’s prime minister Sophie Wilmès announced a series of new restrictions on Monday, following a significant spike in infections and warned of a potential second lockdown.

As you can see, the UK government and several other European governments are starting to get very concerned that we may be in the earliest stages of the second wave of COVID-19. It appears that after the lockdowns were eased, then rates have started to rise right across all European societies and the speculation at the moment is that is largely the younger population who are not self-distancing and using precautions such as face coverings. Of course, the number of travellers on would-be holiday destinations does not help the situation (August is the most popular month for holidays and we are only three days away from August)