What sparked the outbreak was the tumultuous fiesta de fin de curso, which could be translated as “end of school year party.” June marks the end of the academic year for all students from early childhood education, and elementary and secondary high school through university and vocational colleges. It’s a big party for forgetting about the hard study and exams endured through the year and for having fun together with fellow year students and classmates before the long three-month summer vacation, a party tinged with the regret of parting.
It is one of the most important events of the academic year, so for the older students, one day isn’t nearly enough. They go on a viaje de fin de curso, an “end of academic year trip,” which is usually an expedition to a resort area where they stay in resort accommodation, particularly during the cheaper off season just before the busy vacation season. They take the opportunity to get away from their parents and get together to form a party-loving mass of young people. In Japan, school trips are intended for children, school students, and tertiary students to engage in training and tours under the guidance of their teachers, as a part of their extracurricular program, so it would be unimaginable for them to have a raucous party at their hotel or to go to a concert where liquor is consumed, wouldn’t it.
This year students from all over Spain gathered on Mallorca from June 12 to 18. The partying starts on the ferry from the mainland and continued with wild carousing at their accommodation facilities, drinking parties on the street, beach parties, drinking and dancing in close contact with one another at a Reggaeton concert in a bullring, and so on. The result of the week-long stay filled with opportunities for the virus to spread was a macrobrote, a mass outbreak, like no other in Europe.
I can understand the feelings of students wanting to relieve the frustration built up from having to stay at home and do classes remotely for a whole year, and the travel, restaurant, accommodation, and transport industries, hit hard by the pandemic and now in deep trouble, must have been hoping for an opportunity to come back from the brink, but it is a shame that it all backfired.
Figure 1 shows the number of COVID-19 cases from the end of academic year trips to Mallorca as of June 25. The 363 confirmed positive cases in the Community of Madrid were young people aged between 17 and 19 from 30 different schools in Madrid who stayed in eight different hotels in Mallorca. Three-thousand close contacts identified in Madrid are currently in quarantine. Of course, the spread of infection is still a concern when you consider the possibility of infection among family members in the same household via close contact.
The groups prioritized for vaccination in Spain have been fully vaccinated and now people 40 years and older are being vaccinated, so the students who went on this trip were probably not vaccinated yet, barring exceptions.
Some travel agencies specialize in these end of academic year trips. For example:
And you can see the sort of fun students had before the COVID-19 pandemic in these two videos.
It's like the sort of partying you see in commercials for a certain US soft drink on TV.
Mi Viaje de Estudios® - Temporada 2017 - YouTube
I mentioned this in my article "Spanish Flu" on June 9 last year, but 103 years ago, in the middle of the Spanish flu pandemic, the careless act of deciding on the spur of the moment to join in on a festival in a neighboring village caused 800 people out of a village of 1,200 to be infected, which then led the provincial governor to issue an extraordinary official bulletin.
Figure 2: Extraordinary Official Bulletin of the Governor of Burgos, October 4, 1918
Excerpts from the official bulletin
“…que se abstengan terminantemente de celebrar dichas fiestas ó reuniones... never hold such festivals or gatherings…”
"...la infección se propaga por las gotitas de saliva que despide el que habla, tose... the infection spreads via droplets of saliva that become airborne when talking or coughing... Que se abstengan, en consecuencia, de permanecer en locales cerrados, mal ventilados, donde se reúne mucha gente , como tabernas, cafés etc.... Therefore, you should avoid staying in enclosed spaces, poorly ventilated areas, and places where many people gather, such as pubs and cafes.”
I should remind myself, history repeats itself, or rather, “don’t forget God once the danger has passed” (to add a note of self-reprimand to the old saying), for I have made two trips across provincial borders, as reported on this website, Knowledge World Network, in two articles, one titled "Andalusian Deep-Fried Foods," posted on June 21, and the other, "San Esteban Monastery, Salamanca," to be posted on July 6. A man in the middle of his old age like me, who has relaxed because he is fully vaccinated, cannot blame only the young can he.