MADRID, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Spanish authorities confirmed on Tuesday the country is extending its travel ban on arrivals from the United Kingdom (UK) until Feb. 2.
Spain began restricting arrivals from the UK both by sea and air on Dec. 22 over fears of mutant coronavirus, with only Spanish nationals and those legally resident in Spain allowed to enter the country. International transit through Spanish airports by passengers on flights departing from the UK was also prohibited.
These restrictions were due to expire on Jan. 19, but have now been extended for a further two weeks.
Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said the decision has been made at Tuesday's weekly cabinet meeting. Currently, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in Spain has risen to 2,137,220 and the total number of deaths reached 52,683.
Despite the worrying rise in cases, Illa ruled out a further national lockdown, saying that "we do not contemplate any additional measures of home confinement," and the country's 17 autonomous regions were "taking measures that must be respected."
Illa said he hoped these measures, along with Spain's vaccination program, would help the country's hospitals and intensive care units avoid being overwhelmed.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in Spain and some other countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 236 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 63 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 12.