BARCELONA — Not two months after battling back the coronavirus, Spain’s hospitals have started seeing patients who are struggling to breathe returning to their wards.
The deployment of a military emergency brigade to set up a field hospital in the northeastern city of Zaragoza this week is a grim reminder that Spain is far from claiming victory over the virus that overwhelmed the European country in March and April.
Authorities described the field hospital as a precaution, but no one has forgotten the earlier scenes of Spanish hospitals filled to capacity and the devastating period when the country’s COVID-19 death toll grew by more than 900 a day.
While an enhanced testing program is revealing that a majority of the newly infected are asymptomatic and younger, making them less likely to need medical treatment, concern is increasing as hospitals admit more patients again.
The Spanish government’s top virus specialist, Fernando Simón, said Thursday that the 3,500 hospital beds occupied nationally by coronavirus patients represented just 3 percent of the total capacity.
“I would not say that what we are seeing now is similar to what we experienced in March and April,” Simón said. “But it is true that transmission is increasing in every region, and we can’t drop our guard. We are still facing an important risk.”
Specialists are working to determine why Spain is struggling more than other countries after Western Europe had achieved a degree of control over the virus.
UK orders quarantine for arrivals from France
LONDON — Britain will require all people arriving from France to isolate for 14 days — an announcement that throws the plans of tens of thousands of holiday travelers into chaos.
The government said late Thursday that France is being removed from the list of nations exempted from quarantine requirements because of a rising number of coronavirus infections, which have surged by 66 percent in the past week.
The Netherlands, Malta, Monaco, and the Caribbean islands of Aruba and Turks & Caicos also were added to the quarantine list.
France is one of the top holiday destinations for British travelers, who now have until 4 a.m. Saturday to get home if they want to avoid two weeks in isolation.
The number of new infections in Britain is also rising.
Virus positive? Thousands in Germany left wondering
BERLIN — Tens of thousands of travelers who were tested for the coronavirus upon entering Germany in the last two weeks waited Thursday to learn whether they were infected as Bavaria state officials acknowledged that many recipients had yet to be notified, including hundreds with positive results.
Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder postponed his own vacation to the North Sea coast to deal with the holdup, which came as Germany reported its highest number of new virus cases since May 1.
The state Health Ministry said there had been delays in releasing 44,000 test results to people who were checked on their way into Germany, primarily at highway rest stops, including 908 who had tested positive for COVID-19.
“The breakdown that occurred is very irritating and regrettable,” Soeder told reporters.
The governor said that state Health Minister Melanie Huml offered her resignation, but that he did not accept it and Huml still had his confidence.
Mexico to keep US border closed to nonessential travel
MEXICO CITY — Mexico plans to extend the closure of its shared border with the United States for another month to nonessential travel, Mexico Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Thursday.
The current agreement runs through Aug. 21, but Ebrard said it does not make sense to reopen the border at this time.
“We already told the United States that we’re of the idea that it’s extended because of what we have along the strip on their side,” Ebrard said, referring to a surge in cases in the southwestern United States.
The travel restriction at the shared land border was first announced March 18 and has been renewed monthly. It has included the US-Canada border as well.
Mexico has reported about 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections and about 55,000 deaths, both considered to be significant undercounts due to very limited testing.
Africa begins continentwide study of COVID antibodies
JOHANNESBURG — An Africawide study of antibodies to the coronavirus has begun, while evidence from a smaller study indicates that many more people have been infected than official numbers show, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Specialists are eager to know the real number of COVID-19 cases in Africa, as confirmed cases, which topped 1 million last week, and deaths have been relatively low on the continent of 1.3 billion people. Poor data collection, however, has complicated efforts.
But recent surveys in Mozambique found antibodies — proteins the body makes when an infection occurs — to the virus in 5 percent of households in the city of Nampula and 2.5 percent in the city of Pemba.
That’s while Mozambique has just 2,481 confirmed virus cases. Further studies are underway in the capital, Maputo, and the city of Quelimane.
Africa’s young population, with a median age of 19, has been called a possible factor.