To celebrate the end of university entrance exams in Spain, hundreds of students, most of them teenagers from Andalucia and Madrid, traveled to the Mediterranean island of Mallorca during the week of June 15, 2021. They mingled at a beach concert, at street parties, and ballooned the allowed number of tourists to many venues by over double, overwhelming attempts at distancing. The resulting crowds were an ideal breeding ground for the virus.

Now, more than 1,200 positive COVID-19 cases have been linked to their partying, according to Spain’s emergency health response coordinator, Fernando Simón. Some 5,126 travelers have been traced back to the island on the weekend in question, and more than 5,000 people across Spain are in quarantine as a result of confirmed exposure. Cases liked to this outbreak account for approximately 5 percent of all new cases in Spain in the past week.

Among those in quarantine are about two hundred students who were still in Mallorca when the outbreak was identified. They have been confined to the 4-star Palma Vellver hotel on the island, under 24-hour police surveillance. Students are not allowed to leave their rooms for any reason, which many are protesting.

So far, 26.1 percent of those in quarantine on Mallorca have tested positive for COVID-19, and 12 have been admitted to the hospital. The remainder are being told they need to complete two weeks of quarantine before being released. Even those who have had multiple negative tests are considered to be at risk, in an outbreak this virulent.

Simón points out that if released, these teenagers will go back home to their parents, who will largely be between 40 and 55 years old, which is not an age group that has been well vaccinated yet in Spain. The risk of community transmission is too high, as even two subsequent negative tests are not proof someone is not carrying the virus.

Photo: An aerial view of a sandy beach on Mallorca. Credit: Shutterstock