Health will impose mandatory masks on communities in hospitals and health centers. Society

The Health Ministry will impose mandatory use of masks in hospitals and health centers from Wednesday in response to the increase in flu infections, Efe announced on Monday afternoon and the department headed by Mónica García confirmed to EL País. A few hours earlier, in the morning, the majority of the autonomous communities had opposed this measure in an extraordinary interregional council of the National Health System, and opted for the recommendation. Till now only six had decided to implement it.

Health did not wait for the 48 hours it got…

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The Health Ministry will impose mandatory use of masks in hospitals and health centers from Wednesday in response to the increase in flu infections, Efe announced on Monday afternoon and the department headed by Mónica García confirmed to EL País. A few hours earlier, in the morning, the majority of the autonomous communities had opposed this measure in an extraordinary interregional council of the National Health System, and opted for the recommendation. Till now only six had decided to implement it.

Health has not waited for the 48 hours it had given to the autonomous bodies to submit allegations on the proposal which the department had made only this morning. The ministry has clarified that it will announce coordinated actions to equalize protection against the respiratory virus for all citizens and legally protect communities that have already implemented it.

The communities themselves took responsibility for mandatory mask mandates in health centers: some were wearing them and others were not. The six that already had it in place or that had just implemented it are the Valencian Community (governed by the PP and Vox); Catalonia (ERC); Murcia (PP); Aragon (PP), which initially deployed them for healthcare workers and has now expanded them to patients in waiting rooms; Canarias (CC), which announced it this Monday, and Asturias (PSOE), which also notified the measure after the Council and which, if implemented, will remain in force for 15 days. Health scaled back its initial idea to implement them also in social health centers and pharmacies, where it now asks that they be only a recommendation.

The legal format used by the ministry to enforce the use of masks is unprecedented. During the pandemic, it was the central government that regulated its mandatory nature in various places, but through decree laws. The previous arrangement requiring masks to be maintained in health centres, social health centers and pharmacies was repealed five months ago. On this occasion, Health ensures that it is protected by Article 65 of the Law on the Cohesion and Quality of the National Health System, which regulates the declaration of coordinated actions in public health and “obliges all parties involved” . Sources in the department justify that the places now being considered are hospitals and health centers and this is the only way for regional governments to implement the rules with legal guarantees.

Meeting of the Interregional Council of the National Health System this Monday in Madrid.
Mº of Health (Mº of Health EFE)

Most of the communities had made it clear this morning that they were against this obligation. With different political colors, at least Andalusia, Galicia, Madrid, La Rioja, Navarra, Cantabria, Castilla y León and the Balearic Islands (governed by the PP), Euskadi (PNV) and Castilla-La Mancha (PSOE). Have expressed their disapproval. public. Many of them have sought technical parameters from the ministry for taking decisions.

Councilor Fátima Matute (PP) of Madrid assured that her position and the position of the majority of the Council are to maintain the responsible use of masks in the cases already indicated. “And of course, we will continue to implement this with scientific rigor to protect our populations and with the evidence provided by the data we have in each community.” he said after the meeting.

The Health Minister of Castilla-La Mancha, socialist Jesús Fernández Sanz, maintained a similar thesis and explained that his department’s proposal is that masks are not mandatory, but that the recommendation should maintain an “appeal to the responsibility of the population”. He also requested that a meeting of the Alert Report (composed of technicians) and the Public Health Commission (composed of directors of ministries and autonomies) be held “so that the technicians themselves propose measures.”

It is a condemnation that the Minister of Health of Murcia, Juan José Pedreno, also attacked the minister, who expressed regret that health “arrived late” and called a proposal “a phenomenon” that has not gone through the above technical bodies. “Given the high incidence of flu and respiratory viruses, the regional government has already taken prevention and control measures, without consulting the ministry or being interested in the development of autonomous communities,” he said.

Some communities that reject the obligation, such as La Rioja, suggest that masks should only be imposed in health centers if certain thresholds of respiratory virus incidence are reached, although they have not established what these metrics should be. Needed

However, García’s proposal is widely supported in the health sector: both medical-scientific societies and professional representatives believe that masks should be kept in health centers even during a pandemic like the current one. The CSIF, the most representative union in the public administration, reproaches the Ministry of Health and the regional authorities for their inability to reach an agreement on the measures to be adopted and requests the reinforcement of staff and the mandatory nature of face masks. The General Nursing Council has also ruled in favor, which believes that the latter can be a Temporary preventive measure that reduces the peak of infection due to respiratory infections expected in the coming days.

Self-discharge to open primary

In addition to this debate, Minister Mónica García has informed the Council that she is studying whether citizens with a minor illness have the possibility to take sick leave with a responsible self-declaration during the first three days of disability. This is a measure that medical societies have been demanding for years to reduce the burden on health centers and the ministry is now taking into account the increase in winter epidemics of respiratory viruses, especially influenza.

According to sources in the Garcia-led department, the Health Ministry is negotiating the form and timing for implementing these with the Social Security Ministry. The Minister has pointed out that in many other countries the system already works this way, and that by the way citizens declare their illness to the doctor (even if it just happens to obtain sick leave), they are held accountable. Can do this with. Without involving a health professional, which can free up time for more essential care tasks.

Some communities, such as Aragon, have already rejected the measure, while medical societies, which have been demanding it for some time, have appreciated it. This is the case of the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians (SEMG), whose occupational health group spokesperson, Francisco Saez, tells Efe that “it does not mean that an employee has flu or a cold.” “It is nonsense and absurd to have to run to a health center to get a sick leave signed,” but it also “overloads” already saturated health centers.

Paulino Cubero, spokesperson for the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine (semFYC), says in the same line: “As is done in other countries, in 2023 Portugal will, for the last time, introduce sick leave of between one and three days itself. Can justify. Electronic medium between the patient and his company, so that many unnecessary visits can be avoided in self-limited processes, such as colds, gastrointestinal episodes, migraine, dysmenorrhea and other minor processes that do not require medical diagnosis.

However, urgent measures are needed to reverse the decline of primary care. The flu epidemic is skyrocketing: In the absence of more recent data, which will be published on Thursday, infections rose 75% in the final week of the year. Experts predicted the increase would continue, noting that many family and festive gatherings have occurred after those dates, facilitating the spread of the virus.

Although it cannot be determined when the peak will occur, experts estimate that cases will begin to decline around the second half of the month. Moreover, the impact of the flu is not only affecting health centers: a state of emergency prevails in many regions of Spain and some hospital plants, such as the Valencian Community, one of the ones with the highest incidence, are already suffering. Are. Tension.

Finally, the Interterritorial Council on Monday addressed the implementation of the winter plan for future seasons of viral pandemics. It will take a joint and coordinated action from the moment the first infections began, to try to avoid the collapse seen this year.

(TagstoTranslate)Flu(T)Coronavirus COVID-19(T)Coronavirus(T)Respiratory disease(T)Pneumonia(T)Health emergency(T)Infectious disease(T)Health care(T)Society(T)Flu A( t) )sick leave

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