SPANISH health chiefs admitted they were “worried” about the spike in Covid cases in Benidorm and pointed the finger at British holidaymakers.
Ana Barcelo, Minister of Health of the regional government of Valencia whose remit includes the famous seaside resort of the Costa Blanca, has expressed her fears after her official classification in the Covid category “at extreme risk” in Spain.
The city’s 14-day cumulative incidence rate per 100,000 population now stands at 286.
And British tourists, who this week continued to fill the resort’s bars, have been identified by officials as the culprits.
Barcelo admitted at a press conference, signaling that the coronavirus restrictions could be re-enacted if things got worse: âWe are watching with concern the situation in Benidorm and the increase in the number of Covid cases there. .
âThere are 286 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and 53% of these cases were observed in the group of non-Spanish nationals.
“We will monitor developments and take measures to control the situation if necessary.”
Pointing specifically to UK holidaymakers, she added: “We started to detect the increase in the number of cases after 5 October when more tourists started arriving from the UK.”
Benidorm’s Covid figures are six times higher than the average for the province of Alicante of which the city is part.
The Hosbec Regional Hotel Association says the numbers are skewed because they do not take into account the floating population of tourists and vacation home owners which triples the city’s officially registered population of full-time residents.
He wants officials to change the way they calculate coronavirus statistics, but health chiefs say it’s impossible.
Hosbec President Toni Mayor insisted today that the real figure would be around 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants if the floating population were taken into account.
The hotel association also stressed that at the beginning of the week, only eight patients with Covid were treated in the services of the Marina Baixa hospital in Villajoyosa near Benidorm which serves 300,000 inhabitants.
Although the mood appeared to be relaxed among British holidaymakers soaking up the sun, local reports this week indicated a slowdown in the number of holiday bookings by UK tourists.
Spanish media were quick last week to link the rise in the number of Covid cases to the reactivation of British tourism, with respected daily El Mundo declaring: “Benidorm’s Covid rate is increasing with the return of British holidaymakers” .
The grim figures were released after it emerged that 22% of visitors to the station are now from the UK and Britain has regained its traditional number one spot ahead of second-placed Belgium.
They also coincide with a worsening of the Covid situation in Britain.
Britons have been flocking to Benidorm since travel restrictions eased earlier this month with the overhaul of the UK traffic light system and the removal of flight aptitude and eighth day tests for double-stung tourists.
The resort’s Little England began to buzz again earlier in the year when double-bitten Britons learned they no longer had to self-quarantine when they returned from Spain, and some hotels reopened for the first time. times in more than 12 months.
It was confirmed after a public holiday last week that UK holidaymakers now represent more than 20% of all visitors.
Toni Mayor said earlier this month: âThe situation has improved considerably. There is a British atmosphere in Benidorm that reminds me of the atmosphere of the days before the pandemic.
âWe hope that will happen. All the bars and cafes in the Little England area are open and doing a good job because they are packed. “