Face Masks Reinstated in Health Facilities Across Three Spanish Regions Amid Rising Flu and COVID-19 Cases

Spain's Valencia, Catalonia, and Murcia reinstate mask mandate in health centres amid rising flu and COVID-19 cases. National meeting called.

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Face Masks Reinstated in Health Facilities Across Three Spanish Regions Amid Rising Flu and COVID-19 Cases

In response to a surge in flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory infections, health facilities in Valencia, Catalonia, and Murcia have reintroduced mandatory face mask policies. This measure, effective from January 5, aims to curb the spread of infections in hospitals and health centres.

The decision follows a significant rise in acute respiratory infections (ARIs) reported in the latest weekly surveillance. The rate in primary care has escalated to 908.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, up from 806 cases the previous week.

Catalonia's Approach

In Catalonia, face masks are now required in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and social health centres. The regional government plans to request the national Ministry of Health to reinstate automatic sick leave policies, similar to those implemented during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the upcoming inter-territorial council meeting.

Murcia's Protective Measures

Murcia's health authorities have extended the mask mandate to include hospitals, health centres, primary care emergency services, and regional clinics. Juan José Pedreño, the regional Health Minister, emphasized the measure's role in safeguarding patients and health professionals. He also encouraged the public to wear masks in any setting if experiencing respiratory symptoms.

Valencia's Mask Protocol

Valencia has also adopted similar guidelines, mandating mask use for:

  • Symptomatic individuals in shared spaces.
  • Professionals treating symptomatic patients.
  • Hospital and primary care emergency settings.
  • Areas with high patient and visitor concentration, like waiting rooms.
  • Situations deemed necessary by health department management to protect vulnerable groups based on their protocols and preventive medicine recommendations.

Aragón's Response

Aragón has issued an internal directive making face masks compulsory for health and social-health centre staff providing direct care. The use of masks is strongly advised for other workers and the general public, particularly in enclosed or crowded spaces. The region reported 1,184 ARI cases per 100,000 inhabitants and an influenza incidence of 167.5 cases per 100,000, with the peak expected in the next three to four weeks.

National Coordination Efforts

At the national level, Health Minister Mónica García has convened an extraordinary meeting of the inter-territorial council of the National Health System (CISNS) for January 8. The meeting aims to harmonize responses to the respiratory virus surge across all regions.

This move reflects the government's proactive stance in managing the evolving health crisis and underscores the importance of regional and national collaboration in public health initiatives.

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