Superspreaders who have now infected over 140 people could have caused the new coronavirus outbreaks on Gran Canaria in Spain, officials say.
THE capital city of the Canary Island, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, now accounts for 58.2 per cent of the active cases in the region according to health authorities. Gran Canaria, a favourite among British holidaymakers, is battling escalating outbreaks which have put the island on the brink of a new lockdown which could happen soon unless the situation improves quickly.
The city has now become the ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic on the islands. Five of its districts now account for 58.2 per cent of the 3,375 active cases on the seven Canary Islands, which are located off the northwestern coast of Africa, this is despite the fact that the city’s residents account for just 19 per cent of the region’s population. The island of Gran Canaria accounts for 69 per cent of total cases in the Canaries, while its capital city is home to 72 per cent of cases on the whole island.
Lluis Serra Majem, a professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the spokesperson for the Canarian government’s scientific advisory committee, said: “The likely origin of this new outbreak could be down to just one person or a handful of people. One or several ‘superspreaders’ from an area of Spain and who integrated into the nightlife and Latino discos in the Guanarteme neighbourhood [in the most western corner of the Playa de las Canteras beach] could have been the main cause of the outbreak after spreading the disease to more than 140 people.”
Residents of Gran Canaria, in general, were used to low infection figures during Spain’s lockdown and inhabitants of the island’s capital in particular returned to the city’s nightlife with great enthusiasm, once the de-escalation process allowed for it.
News stories about private parties on yachts or in pubs where the required safety measures were not respected have been frequent in recent months. “The origin of this wave is in the outbreaks that came from nightlife and then in family meetings, which saw fast transmission,” explains Amós García Rojas, the head of the epidemiology service at the Canarian public health department. “It’s evident that when there is a spread like this it is because people haven’t respected the guidelines,” he adds.