UK second wave: Which European countries have surging coronavirus cases?

29 July 2020, 11:58

There are fears further holiday destinations could face quarantine rules
There are fears further holiday destinations could face quarantine rules. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Boris Johnson has warned that Europe is showing “signs of a second wave” of coronavirus, prompting fears holidaymakers could face more travel chaos. 

The Prime Minister re-imposed the 14-day quarantine rule for those returning to Spain from the UK last weekend, with barely hours notice. 

The Foreign Office is now advising “against all but essential travel” to mainland Spain, as well as the Balearic and Canary Islands, following a spike in infections. 

Number 10 has warned that “no travel is risk free” so long as the pandemic continues.

With growing uncertainty around which countries could be next to close for Britons, and whether a second wave could hit the UK, we looked at how infection rates are comparing across the Continent. 

Coronavirus is surging in parts of Europe
Coronavirus is surging in parts of Europe. Picture: AP

Spain’s infection rate versus Britain

Spain has one of the highest rates in Europe at present, with 39.4 cases per 100,000 population occurring in the past fortnight, against 11/100,000 in the previous two weeks to 12 July. 

This is a rise of 260% for people testing positive, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data. 

The number of new cases in Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands, stands at 47.1 per 100,000 people, compared to 12.7 per 100,000 people in the UK in the two weeks to 26 July. 

READ MORE: Everything you need to know after UK adds Spain to quarantine list

The R rate, which indicates how rapidly the virus is transmitted, is higher at 1.25 in Spain compared to 0.7-0.9 in the UK.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, revealed that the decision to bring back the self-isolation rule was made after 10 tourists returned to Britain from Spain and tested positive. The UK’s “air bridge” with Spain, allowing quarantine-free travel, had been open for around a fortnight. 

Spain, which has seen more than 28,000 Covid-19 linked deaths, entered and eased lockdown earlier than Britain, meaning there could be a lag in any infection uptick.

A senior Downing Street source told the Daily Mail that the Prime Minister was worried a second wave could arrive in two weeks. 

READ MORE: Boris Johnson warns signs of second wave across Europe

READ MORE: Brits advised against travel to mainland Spain, Balearic and Canary Islands

However, like in the UK, Spain’s problem varies across regions. Infection rates for every 100,000 inhabitants were highest in the Aragon region, at more than 120, as well as Catalonia and Navarre, where the figure was between 60 and 119.

Many parts have a case rate of lower than 20/100,000, which is lower than the rate in Birmingham or Swindon

Which other European countries have coronavirus spikes?

At least 11 European countries where quarantine-free trave; is currently allowed have recorded rises in cases in recent days, however no major holiday destinations for Brits are seeing surges on a par with Spain. 

But the country with the highest rate of coronavirus infections in Europe is Luxembourg, which has a relatively small population but sits between its far larger neighbours France, Germany and Belgium. 

Luxembourg has seen the rates of infection increase from an already high 101/100,000 to 219/100,000 - a rate that puts it close to the two-week rate for the US or Brazil, according to the ECDC. 

The FCO currently does not advise against travel there. 

In neighbouring Belgium, a surge has taken the rate of infections to 29.1 per 100,000, compared to 15 in the UK. 

Ministers are also understood to be concerned about Croatia, another popular tourist destination for Brits, which has 27 cases per 100,000 people, which is also currently exempt from FCO’s warning.

READ MORE: What are your rights when returning to the UK from Spain?

Spain has seen a spike in infections since its lockdown was lifted
Spain has seen a spike in infections since its lockdown was lifted. Picture: AP

The Balkans are also seeing rates surge, with Montenegro particularly hard hit - but the FCO currently advises against all but essential travel to the Adriatic coast country.

The FCO also advises against all but essential travel to Sweden and mainland Portugal, because of their previously high rates.

What has the Governent said? 

Reports have swirled of Luxembourg, Belgium and Croatia being next to face quarantine on arrival into Britain, however these resorts are unconfirmed. 

Mr Johnson said on Tuesday: "What we have to do is take swift and decisive action where we think that the risks are starting to bubble up again.

"Let's be absolutely clear about what's happening in Europe, amongst some of our European friends, I'm afraid you are starting to see in some places the signs of a second wave of the pandemic."

He added that “we just have to be vigilant”.