The use of mask abroad is no longer mandatory this Monday, but the General Directorate of Health (DGS) recommends its use in some situations, such as crowds, when it is not possible to maintain physical distance and by vulnerable people.
This obligation lasted, in total, 318 days, since the approval of the law, on October 28, 2020, in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, and has been successively renewed by the parliament, which will not happen now.
In an orientation released today on the use of the mask, which becomes optional abroad and recommended in some situations, to prevent covid-19, the DGS advises its use “when the occurrence of population agglomerates is expected or whenever it is not possible to maintain the recommended physical distance”.
The DGS also recommends its use on the street by “most vulnerable people”, namely “with chronic illnesses or states of immunosuppression with increased risk for severe covid-19”, whenever “moving outside the place of residence or habitual stay”.
In guidance, the DGS reiterates that the use of a mask “is an effective measure in preventing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2”, stressing that, despite the end of the mandatory use abroad, the use of this mask “continues to be a important measure to contain the infection, especially in environments and populations with greater risk”.
The use of the mask will continue to be mandatory “in educational, teaching and nursery establishments”, in “spaces and commercial and service provision establishments”, in “public or public buildings”, in “spectacle rooms, cinemas or similar” in “collective passenger transport” and “in workplaces, whenever physical distance is not possible”.
The wearing of the mask will continue to be mandatory also in “residential establishments for the elderly (ERPI), units of the National Network of Continuous Integrated Care (RNCCI) and other structures and residential responses for children, young people and people with disabilities, applicants and beneficiaries of international protection and reception of victims of domestic violence and human trafficking”.
It is also mandatory to wear a mask by people “with SARS-CoV-2 infection or with symptoms suggestive” of the disease and by people considered “contact of a confirmed case of covid-19”, except when they are alone “in their place of insulation”.
The end of the mandatory use of masks in outdoor public spaces takes place on the day the last diploma approved by the parliament and promulgated by the President of the Republic expires, on June 11, for a period of 90 days, with the Assembly of the Republic not having proposed the its renewal.
The Directorate-General for Health had already advanced to Lusa that it was reviewing the guidance on the use of masks, which are now optional outdoors and recommended in some situations, noting that, in “special situations, namely predictable or potential agglomerates of people, specific contexts and particular clinical situations”, the mask would be recommended.
In a hearing on Wednesday, in parliament, at the request of the PSD, on the obligatory nature of masks, the director-general of Health, Graça Freitas, pointed out as exceptions for the continued use of masks the playground in schools, as well as in clusters populations and at outdoor events.
“The indirect transmission of the virus is by accumulation of aerosols and obviously this route is much less effective outdoors than indoors. Anyway, the recommendation is that, in clusters and in special contexts”, the mask should be used, said Graça Freitas in the hearing at the Occasional Committee to monitor the application of response measures to the covid-19 disease pandemic.
In the guidance issued, the DGS confirms that, “in the case of education and teaching establishments”, the mask “is strongly recommended for children aged between 6 and 10 years, or for 1st cycle students, regardless of age”, as long as children “have ‘trained in use’ and use masks correctly” and “adult supervision is guaranteed”, their use is not recommended by children “aged 5 years and under”.
The General Directorate of Health makes recommendations on the use of masks and it is up to the Assembly of the Republic to determine their mandatory use.
In turn, the Association of Public Health Physicians (ANMSP) defended the continued use of masks to prevent covid-19 and the flu, and for a “more controlled” winter, allowing the NHS to resume the delay in care activity.
“The National Association of Public Health Physicians continues to suggest that, especially in this winter phase that we are about to enter, the mask will continue to be personal protective equipment used by everyone or almost everyone so that we can protect ourselves, not just of covid-19, but also of the flu”, defended the acting president of the ANMSP, Gustavo Tato Borges, in statements to Lusa.
Covid-19 has caused at least 4,622,410 deaths worldwide, among more than 224.2 million infections with the new coronavirus registered since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the latest report by the Agence France-Presse.
In Portugal, since March 2020, 17,861 people have died and 1,055,584 confirmed cases of infection have been recorded, according to data from the General Directorate of Health.
The respiratory disease is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, detected in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China, and currently with variants identified in countries such as the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, Brazil or Peru.