Mask wearing both indoors and outside when the safety distance of 1.5 meters cannot be respected, could be mandatory until at least spring 2022, the Spanish Health Minister has hinted.
As the fear of winter illnesses such as Influenza grows, the Ministry of Health is said to not be considering the lifting of wearing face masks in indoor spaces, as this could further complicate the Spanish health care system.
The head of department Carolina Darias warned on Friday, October 8, that remaining Covid restriction measures will be lifted “step by step and little by little” as there are fears that this autumn and winter will see a strong wave of influenza released after the relaxation of Covid measures.
This year Spain saw cases of flu reach an historical low, mainly thanks to the widespread use of face masks.
Darias said that when “the autumn respiratory viruses arrive, the healthcare situation could be complicated, especially if the mandatory wearing of face masks in some situations is relaxed.”
She also hinted that she doesn't see the "lift happening before spring", she didn’t however give a precise date and called for "patience" among citizens.
Her comments come as Spain has seen its Covid-19 figures fall below 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for the first time in about 14 months. This new figure means that the country has been placed in the ‘low risk’ zone.
The health minister also said that "Indoors we are going to continue with masks," adding that they would see how the virus, which is declining thanks "to the vaccination", develops.
The Minister of Health has also indicated that the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) decision on whether or not they will authorise the pediatric vaccine, following the clinical trials of Pfizer and Moderna, will be known by the end of this year.
“I think that before the end of the year we can be talking about this pediatric vaccine but we have to go step by step, it does not depend on us, but it is quite advanced," adding that the forecast is that before the end of this year “one can already be in that process."
As for the administering of the third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Darias indicated that it is in “a continuous review process", for that reason the third vaccine has been given to those most vulnerable. These are the people who have had a transplant or take specific medications, meaning they have very low immunity levels and also the elderly who live in nursing homes.
As our immunity levels are reduced as we get older, next in line will be those over the age of 70.
As far as all other age groups receiving the third vaccine is concerned, Darias indicated that “it is necessary to go step by step, it is a possibility, however, there are things that must be discerned, such as, for example, how long is the durability of the protection of the vaccine against infection, hospitalisation and death”. She also added that “you have to see the scientific evidence, clinical trials and studies.”
The minister said that we must all remember that “the pandemic is not over”, but Spain is heading in the right direction, to a point where life is beginning to feel a touch more ‘normal’.
Image Credit: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa
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