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Coronavirus: Vacations in Spain: Where can I travel from and what are the requisites for entry to the country? | Travel

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Spain reopened its borders to global travelers on Monday, and tourists from any part of the world will be able to visit the country during the summer high season. That was the announcement made by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on May 21 at the Fitur tourism fair in Madrid – but there is plenty of small print for those traveling to Spanish shores, depending on who they are and where they are coming from. There are different requirements according to the reason for the trip – essential travel or for leisure – the place of origin – from inside or outside the European Union – and even the type of tourist – whether or not they have been vaccinated.

The new measures are aimed at facilitating international mobility now that the coronavirus vaccine campaigns are progressing across the world. The EU’s Digital Covid Certificate will also assist with this process, a scheme that will be fully in force by July 1 but is already being used in a number of member states (the majority of Spanish regions are already issuing them, for example).

Below are the main questions and answers for tourists who want to visit Spain in the coming months.

Can you visit Spain for a leisure trip from other EU countries?

Yes, you can. This kind of travel, in fact, was only restricted during the toughest part of the pandemic – the three-month lockdown that began in March 2020. After this phase, once the internal borders of the EU were reopened, they have not been closed again apart from a few exceptions. That led to a paradoxical situation that lasted for months, whereby a German national could travel to the Balearic Islands or Andalusia, while residents of Spain could not leave their own region due to the perimetral lockdowns in force.

Are there any restrictions for these European travelers?

It depends on the case. From the green-light areas designated by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) you can travel without any barriers – but in practice there are few European territories that are on this level. The majority – except some zones in Finland, Norway, Iceland and Malta – will have to present an additional requirement for entry: a vaccination certificate, a negative PCR or antigen test carried out in the 48 hours prior to arrival, or a certificate showing the bearer has contracted, and recovered from, Covid-19. Any of these documents should be in Spanish, English, French or German, or alternatively translated into Spanish by an official body. Minors under 12 are exempt from these requirements.

Are any vaccines accepted, and is one dose enough?

No. Firstly, the vaccines administered must have been approved by either the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the World Health Organization (WHO) – i.e. Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Janssen, Sinopharm or Sinovac-Coronavac. What’s more, proof of vaccination will only be valid once 14 days have passed since receiving the full doses required for the vaccine to offer full protection – two doses in all cases but the Janssen medication, which only requires one. The vaccination certificate must have been issued by the appropriate authorities in the country of origin and must include name and surname, date of vaccination (indicating the day the last shot was administered), type of vaccine, number of doses, country of issue and the details of which body issued the certificate.

How do you prove that you have had and overcome Covid-19?

In this case, the recovery certificate must be issued by the competent authority or by a medical service at least 11 days after the first positive PCR test has been carried out. These natural antibodies against the virus are considered to be valid for 180 days, which is the time that this certificate will allow people to travel within the EU. The document must include the bearer’s full name, the date the test was taken, the type of test and the country of issue.

From which non-EU countries can you travel without restrictions?

There is a list of countries whose residents are not affected by the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union. That’s to say, areas from which you can travel with no barriers due to their current control of the pandemic. These countries or territories are: Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Rwanda, Singapore, Thailand, China, Hong Kong and Macao. In these cases, it is not necessary to present evidence of a negative coronavirus test, vaccination or having overcome the disease. It should be noted that in the case of the United Kingdom, Spain remains on the government’s “amber list.” This means travelers returning to the UK from Spain must take a coronavirus test before travel, quarantine for at least 10 days on return, and take two home PCR tests that must come back negative before quarantine can end.

And from the rest of the non-EU countries, can people visit Spain for tourism?

The reopening of the country on Monday was designed for these countries. Specifically, all travelers who have been fully vaccinated with one of the medications approved by the EMA or the OMS two weeks prior to arrival. Tourists who cannot prove they are immunized under these conditions are excluded, even if they have a negative test, have been vaccinated with a different medication, or can prove they have overcome Covid-19.

What about minors who have not been vaccinated?

The under-12s who are traveling with an adult who has had a vaccine that’s been approved by the EMA or the WHO can enter Spain with no restrictions.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. The government has kept an ace up its sleeve for when new variants of the virus emerge and can thus exclude countries where these strains are circulating out of control. For example, the government order specifies that risk countries are subject to quarantine. Currently, only India is in this situation, meaning that tourists cannot come from there to Spain even if they are fully vaccinated.

In practice, arrivals from Brazil and South Africa are also barred. The exceptions are for Spanish or Andorran nationals, residents of those two countries, or passengers in transit to a non-Schengen area country with a layover of less than 24 hours (without leaving the airport transit area), as well as airline personal necessary for air transportation activities.

Are there any ways you can travel to Spain from outside the EU if you are not vaccinated?

Not if the trip is for leisure or tourism. There are only a few exceptions that can justify the journey: if you are a habitual resident of the EU, Schengen-associated states, Andorra, Monaco, the Vatican or San Marino and you are traveling to that destination; if you are the holder of a long-term visa issued by a Schengen member state or associated state and are traveling to that country; healthcare professionals, including researchers and professional senior carers who are returning to their jobs; transportation, marine and aeronautical personal who are needed for air transportation activities; diplomatic and consular staff, as well as personnel from international, military or civil protection organizations, and members of humanitarian organizations who are working; students who are studying in Schengen member states and associated states and have the corresponding permission or visa for a long stay, provided they are traveling to the country where they are studying, and that they enter during the academic term or during the 15 days prior to its commencement; highly skilled workers whose work is essential and cannot be postponed or done remotely, including high-level sportsmen and sportswomen taking part in high-level sporting competitions in Spain; people who are traveling for essential and documented family reasons; and people who can provide evidence of force majeure or essential need.

If you have any doubts about these requirements, the full text of the Official State Bulletin (BOE) can be read here in Spanish.

Is there any official documentation to be filled out?

Yes, in all cases independently of origin, whether you arrive by air or sea, and for the under-12s too. All travelers must fill out a health control form, which can be found at www.spth.gob.es or the Spain Travel Health app. The QR code that will be created on filling out the form must be shown before boarding, as well as on arrival.

Do passengers on cruise ships have to fill out the same obligatory documentation?

Passengers on international cruises should not use the Spain Travel Health application. In that case, the necessary information is collected via the EU Digital Passenger Locator Form.

What controls are there when you arrive in the country by land?

When entering by land from risk zones in France, travelers should carry one of the aforementioned tests: vaccination certificate, negative coronavirus tests or a certificate of recovery from Covid-19.

English version by Simon Hunter.



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Sacred ground: the ancient grove where Yoruba traditions are reborn | Global development

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Through the dim forest, a slow procession of hundreds of people largely dressed in white, some in a trance, others singing fervently, heads towards the Osun River. As they have every August for 700 years, Yoruba people gather here at the Osun-Osogbo sacred grove, a Unesco world heritage site in south-west Nigeria, for an ancient festival celebrating their traditional spirituality.

An Osun priestess on her way to the grove.
Osun priestesses wait for the worshippers to arrive.
Yoruba traditions are still practised by a devout minority.
An arugba, or virgin, leads a procession.

  • Clockwise from top: an Osun priestess on her way to the grove; a group of priestesses wait for the worshippers to arrive; an arugba, or virgin, leads a procession; Yoruba traditions are still practised by a devout minority

Yoruba religious practitioners, adorned with cowrie shells, some with crosses or Islamic beads, pray for protection and offer sacrifices. In a region where Christianity and Islam are dominant, Yoruba traditions have often been cast as demonic – a legacy of colonial violence against Indigenous faiths – but are practised by a devout minority and hold a wide significance for people of varying faiths.

Recent years have seen a growing appreciation of Yoruba spirituality among the younger generation, with more young people becoming practitioners and Ifá priests.

The festival attracts visitors from across the Yoruba-dominated south-west, along with diasporas from South America and the Caribbean.

The two-week Osun festival attracts visitors from across the Yoruba-dominated south-west, along with diasporas from South America and the Caribbean, as well as tourists. Osun, the goddess of the river, is said to have appeared to an ancient warrior, instructing him to bring Yoruba people out of famine, into safety in Osogbo city. In return, they would offer a yearly festival.

Osunnike Ogundele, one of the grove custodians.
Osunnike Ogundele, one of the grove custodians.

Osunnike Ogundele, 53, wears a shimmering green and gold lace dress, her hair braided with cowrie shells. “I’ve been here all my life,” she says, explaining her mother’s influence, and her own guidance for her children.

“My fondest memories of the grove are our mothers before us who passed on the knowledge we have now. There was so much to learn from just observing them and we are trying our best to pass this on to our daughters too,” she says. “Osun answers all prayers, no one cries to her without leaving with a smile.”

Osunniti Sikiru, 32, a Muslim and Osun priestess, is one of a number of custodians of the grove. She describes how, for Yoruba people, cultural heritage should be understood as predating the advent of Abrahamic religion in the region.

Osiniti Sikiru, another grove custodian.

“Most of our forefathers weren’t Christians or Muslims,” she says. “There’s a big misconception that as a Muslim one can’t combine it with Osun worship. Water is very symbolic in Islam and Osun worship, both emphasise purity. I am still a practising Muslim, I still pray five times a day, my son is named Ibrahim, but Osun worship precedes most religions in Yoruba land.”

Princess Adeola Iya Osun, 47, another priestess, chimes in. “One of my daughters is a pastor and my son actively goes to the church, but what I try to preach is a symbiotic relationship between faiths.”

Princess Adeola Iya Osun.
Princess Adeola Iya Osun.

There have been concerns that the Osun River, seen as having healing powers, has been contaminated, sparking fears for the health of the worshippers who wash and drink here. Local media investigations allegedly found dangerous levels of lead, lithium, aluminium and iron, caused by the activities of artisanal miners and large companies.

Last year, pictures of the polluted river caused uproar and demands for government action. A warning by the state authorities not to drink from the river came on the penultimate day of this year’s festival, sparking further anger. Some chose to drink anyway, knowing the river was contaminated, believing they would be protected from ill-health.

An overview of the packed grove during the festival.
Water from the Osun River is believed to have healing powers.
Osun priestess prepares a sacrifice to be offered to the river goddess.
A ram is slaughtered and its blood drained into the river.

Pollution is a serious worry for those attempting to maintain the integrity of the grove and its surroundings.

A committee of custodians leads these efforts, clearing the litter, while preserving the architecture and stone carvings.

Osuntunmishe Oluwo, a local healer.

On the final day of the festival, visitors crowd the banks of the river to meet priests and priestesses for consultation and prayers. Baskets are laid out full of kola nuts, fruits and vegetables.

In a trance, a priestess bellows praises to the goddess, then shares messages and warnings. As devotees arrive for prayers, testimonies are shared by people who have attended for several years.

Iya Osun’s parents had challenges having children, she says. “My mother came to pray to Osun for a child. I’m a result of that answered prayer.”

As the festival ends, the crowds leave the grove and the dense forest, their prayers made, hoping to return next year with testimonies of their own.

Prayers at the edge of the river.

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UNSC Sanctions on Hiring of Workers From N.Korea Do Not Apply to Donbas – Moscow

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea do not apply to the Donbas republics, Director of the Department of International Organizations at the Russian Foreign Ministry Pyotr Ilyichev said in an interview with Sputnik.

Earlier, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, said the republic is negotiating with Pyongyang on the arrival of builders from North Korea. In July, North Korea recognized the independence of the DPR and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).

“The recruitment of labor from North Korea is subject to international restrictions established by UN Security Council resolutions. However, it must be taken into account that they apply to the member states of the world organization, which the people’s republics of Donbas are not,” Ilyichev said.

He said Russia will not force Donbas and North Korea to avoid cooperation.



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Polio is circulating again in the West: What we know so far about transmission in New York and London | Society

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The poliovirus is circulating again in the West. A virus that was on the way to global eradication has been detected in recent months in the wastewater of New York and London. This is not unusual, since it can appear in the fecal remains of vaccinated people with the attenuated pathogen. What’s different now is that the poliovirus – which causes the infectious disease polio – has been recorded in an adult in the United States, something that has not happened for a decade, and that samples from the United Kingdom suggest there is local transmission of the disease.

How did the virus get there? To answer this question, it is first necessary to understand the two types of vaccines that are used against polio. In countries where transmission is eradicated, an intramuscular vaccine is used. This contains the inactive virus, which is enough to prevent it from spreading in an environment where the pathogen is no longer circulating in the wild and most of the population is vaccinated. The second type of vaccine is made up of oral drops with a live attenuated virus, which is used in countries where polio continues to circulate. It produces antibodies in the blood, as well as the oral and intestinal mucosa. “With this vaccine, the immunized person would not develop the disease nor would they be able to infect others if they become infected with the wild virus,” explain researchers José Jiménez and Ana María Ortega-Prieto, from King’s College London, in an article in The Conversation.

The only two countries where polio remains endemic are Pakistan and Afghanistan, with 12 cases and one so far this year, respectively. Normally, when polio is detected in fecal remains in the wastewater, it comes from the excretion of people from these countries, which is not a major problem. What has happened now is that the virus is not just being detected in wastewater, it’s infecting people.

It’s still not fully confirmed that there is local circulation in London, but the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) has warned: “The poliovirus levels and the genetic diversity among the isolates suggests some level of virus transmission both in the areas where positive samples were found and in adjacent ones.”

Local circulation has been confirmed in New York, where one adult has been paralyzed due to the virus. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this case, is just “the tip of the iceberg.” “There are a number of individuals in the community that have been infected with poliovirus,” Dr. José Romero, from the CDC, told news network CNN. “The spread is always a possibility because the spread is going to be silent.”

As was seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, when a case is detected and its origin is unknown, it is normally a sign of uncontrolled transmission. “For every one case of paralytic polio identified, hundreds more may be undetected,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a statement. This is partly due to the fact that most people who contract the poliovirus are asymptomatic. Only in about 1% of cases does the virus cause problems: if it enters the central nervous system, it can cause paralysis and muscle atrophy.

What are the consequences of these outbreaks? In both London and New York, vaccination rates are lower than in the rest of their respective countries, meaning there is an elevated risk for children, who mainly affected by this disease. In London, authorities have already launched a vaccination campaign to offer booster doses to one million children between the ages of one and nine.

The road to polio eradication

The spread of polio is limited, at least in countries with high vaccination coverage. But these recent cases show that the virus still presents a risk and completely eradicating it is a complicated task, even if it seemed within reach.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was launched in 1988 with the aim of eradicating polio just as smallpox has been eradicated. In general terms, the program has been a success: the number of polio cases worldwide have dropped 99% since its creation.

Only Pakistan and Afghanistan, where Islamic fundamentalism makes vaccination campaigns difficult, report a few cases each year. And Nigeria, the other country where there is wild poliovirus (i.e. not the virus is transmitted by the attenuated vaccines), has not reported a single case since 2016.

The secret to this achievement is mass vaccination: first with the oral vaccine and then, when the country is already free of the disease, with the vaccine given by injection. Keeping vaccination levels high is key to curbing the virus.

According to UNICEF data, global vaccination levels dropped between 2019 and 2021 by 5%. In other words, 25 million children stopped receiving their doses. Vaccination rates are the lowest they have been in the last 30 years: 81% for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, which are considered a good indicator for other conditions. This means it is likely that polio coverage is at similarly low levels.

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