Canary Island shuts beaches after being hit by second coronavirus wave

A Canary Islands tourist hot spot has closed its beaches immediately after being hit by second coronavirus wave.

The holiday island of El Hierro in the Canaries has shut down its beaches immediately after suffering its first serious outbreak of coronavirus in months.

El Hierro in the Canaries has shut down its beaches immediately

The island is the second smallest of the popular Canaries

El Hierro was one of the few places in Spain to escape the pandemic, registering only a handful of cases and no deaths.

But the second wave of the virus has hit at least 40 people and led local authorities to take urgent action now rather than wait for the situation to worsen.

Local president Alpidio Armas today announced new preventative measures which include, among others, the prohibition of using the bathing areas on the island.

“Early intervention has been shown to be a fundamental tool to prevent the spread of the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus in El Hierro.

“In this sense, health protection measures have been issued, within each area of ​​competence, in order to reduce and prevent risky contacts between citizens in relation to Covid-19,” he said.

The island is the second smallest of the popular Canaries but attracts tourists looking for a more serene holiday in stunning surroundings.

Health chiefs are devastated that their good record has been hit and want to take decisive action to prevent a further spread.

The measures imposed immediately also include closure of public spaces, restriction of access to residences for the elderly, suspension of all kinds of cultural, social and sports activities organised by the island’s government, closure of libraries and educational centres.

Parks and markets have been closed, as well as children’s play areas.

Mr Armas said the mayors of the three municipalities of  Valverde, La Frontera and El Pinar had met to agree the new regulations as a matter of urgency ” in order to reduce and prevent risky contacts between citizens in relation to Covid-19.”

The El Hierro government team says it is in close contact with the Canary government because of the proximity of the planned return of schools on September 15th.

The Canaries, having had a low incidence of coronavirus and deaths in the first wave, is currently recording record level of new positives and both Lanzarote and Gran Canaria have warned of localised lockdowns if the level doesn’t drop.

Today, the archipelago added another 297 cases, bringing the total number to 7,106, putting the rate at 329.99 per 100,000 people.

El Hierro has also called for security reinforcements and army personnel to help with disinfecting of public areas.

By islands, Gran Canaria accumulates 3,702 cases of coronavirus of which 2,899 are still active, which represents 68 per cent of the total active cases on the islands. Tenerife has a cumulative 2,380 cases of which 782 are still active, three times less than the active cases in Gran Canaria.

Lanzarote has 429 active cases and an accumulated 551, Fuerteventura with a total of 277 of which 121 are still active, La Palma has 141 cases and 22 are still active, El Hierro has 37 active cases out of a total of 40 and La Gomera with an accumulated of 15 cases of which six are still active.

Canary president, Angel Victor Torres says the islands are doing all they can to head off more lockdowns, with the next ten to 14 days being crucial to see if extensive new regulations will dent the figures.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has offered officials running the country’s 17 regions help from the military to conduct coronavirus contact tracing.

He has pledged to declare regional emergency orders if the expansion of the pandemic continues, facilitating regional officials ability to issue lockdowns and restrict mobility.

Sanchez says the infection rate is preoccupying but called it far from the situation in mid-March, when the government imposed a state of emergency.

Spain is grappling to control transmission of the virus, with a new wave hitting the country only days before the opening of the school year. Sanchez encouraged Spaniards to download a contact-tracing mobile app that the government is rolling out.

More than 400,000 people have been infected since the onset of the epidemic and at least 28,872 have died from the coronavirus. However, the figure doesn’t capture many who died without being tested.

More to follow…