The group of Dutch visitors were meant to be self-isolating for 10 days after they had tested positive for Covid-19, but they simply “disappeared” during their stay.
Travelling through Extremadura, a western Spanish region bordering Portugal, some of the tourists felt ill and they stopped off in the town of Navas del Madroño on 16 November to take a coronavirus test.
The nine-strong group tested positive and were instructed to follow health protocols and quarantine at a local hotel for 10 days.
But Charo Espino, a spokeswoman for the health department in the Extremadura region, said on Friday that they had “disappeared”, reports AP.
“The tourists were staying at a local hotel and they had to keep the quarantine mandated by health authorities, but they didn’t,” local councillor Denis Talavera told Extremadura TV.
“We don’t know how or when they left.”
Police have since been searching for the renegade tourists, while airports have been put on alert to ensure they don’t flee the country, said Yolanda García Seco, the central government’s representative in the region, when speaking to local media.
While Spain’s vaccine rollout is one of the best in Europe – 89 per cent of residents aged 12 and over have been double jabbed – and Covid rates remain much lower than other Western European countries, at around 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over the last 14 days, authorities are still mulling introducing new restrictions.
These would include mandatory “vaccine passports” to enter indoor public spaces, restaurants or nightclubs, a measure that has been brought in across various European countries.