Teens in Mallorca Covid outbreak ferried home in ‘bubble boat’

A "bubble boat" carrying 118 students linked to a Covid mega-outbreak on Mallorca set sail on Thursday for mainland Spain, ending their confinement in a quarantine hotel on the Balearic island.

Teens in Mallorca Covid outbreak ferried home in 'bubble boat'
Teens in Mallorca Covid outbreak ferried home. Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP

Spain has been grappling with the growing fallout from the end-of-term trip in mid-June which has seen almost 2,000 people infected and nearly 6,000 others placed in quarantine.

The story broke last week when hundreds of youngsters across Spain tested positive after going on the trip, prompting the authorities to quarantine some 250 students at a hotel in the capital Palma and a backlash from youngsters and their parents.

But a judge on Wednesday ordered that those students who tested negative could be released from quarantine in the four-star Palma Bellver, which has been dubbed “Hotel Covid”, with a ferry laid on Thursday to bring them home.

Dubbed the “bubble boat” because the students are in an isolated section so they can’t mix with any other passengers, the boat set sail from Palma at 10am on Thursday.

The ferry is expected to arrive in the eastern port of Valencia later on Thursday where the students will be picked up by health officials from their home regions who will decide whether to run a second test.

Such trips are organised as a traditional way for teenagers to celebrate the end of exams, drawing in youngsters from across the country.

Balcony protests

Health ministry figures show at least 1,824 people have been infected and 5,978 placed in quarantine, indicating the outbreak involves the Alpha strain of the virus first detected in the United Kingdom.

A young man from Valencia is currently being treated in intensive care, Spanish media reported.

On Tuesday, the local government said “Hotel Covid” was hosting at least 232 youngsters who had “a direct or indirect link to the trip” and a quarter of them had tested positive.

The court ruling on Wednesday was issued after an appeal by the families of those who had tested negative.

In recent days, TV footage has shown angry students shouting “We’re negative!” from the balconies or hanging out towels scrawled with the same message.

Local police told AFP there have been complaints of students blasting loud music, throwing things into the street or hoisting alcohol up to their balconies using sheets

Both the youngsters, who have not yet been vaccinated, and the island’s authorities have been accused of recklessness.

READ ALSO: FOCUS: How student holidays in Mallorca turned into a Covid super spreader in Spain

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Cabin crew staff to extend Spain strike by 12 days

A cabin crew strike at EasyJet and Ryanair saw 15 flights to and from Spain cancelled and 175 others delayed Saturday, as staff at the Irish airline announced 12 more days of stoppages.

Cabin crew staff to extend Spain strike by 12 days

The strike at the two low-cost airlines over pay and working conditions began as European schools started breaking up for the summer, creating headaches for both holidaymakers and the aviation sector.

By 1:00 pm (1100 GMT) on Saturday, 10 Ryanair and five EasyJet flights had been cancelled and 175 flights delayed, of which 123 Ryanair and 52 EasyJet, unions said in a statement.

The series of rolling strikes by Ryanair cabin crew in Spain — where there are some 1,900 employees –began on June 24, with EasyJet staff joining on Friday.

READ ALSO: Ryanair strike in Spain: 54 flights cancelled and 300 delayed on Thursday

Ryanair’s USO union rep said the new stoppages would take place in three four-day stretches: July 12 to 15, July 18 to 21, and July 25 to 28 at the 10 Spanish airports where Ryanair operates.

“After six days of strike and in view of the unwillingness of the company to listen to its staff and its preference for leaving thousands of passengers grounded rather than sitting down to negotiate an agreement under Spanish law, we have been forced to call new strike days,” said USO’s Lidia Arasanz.

She said the initial strike, which consisted of two three-day stretches, had seen “more than 200 flights cancelled and almost 1,000 delays”, with the upcoming stoppages likely to create similar levels of disruption.

EasyJet crew have pledged to strike during the first three weekends of July to demand parity in working conditions in line with other European airlines.

The strikes are a headache for the aviation sector, which has struggled to recruit people after massive layoffs during the Covid pandemic.