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Spanish Health Minister Proposes Reintroduction of Face Masks

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Health Measures and Concerns in Spain

Spanish Minister of Health, Mónica García, has announced proposals to reinstate face masks in health and social centres, as well as pharmacies. This decision is part of an extraordinary meeting of the National Health System Interterritorial Council (CISNS) aimed at harmonizing strategies to address recent respiratory virus peaks in Spain. Five Spanish regions- including Valencia- have already announced the reintroduction of rules making the use of face masks compulsory in health facilities following a spike in flu and COVID-19 cases over the festive season

Sick Leave Simplification

Additionally, Minister García is considering the self-justification of three-day sick leaves for individuals with mild illnesses. She argues that in the initial phase of an illness, a doctor’s visit is unnecessary, emphasizing the burden on primary healthcare professionals. This measure, adopted in various countries during the pandemic, aims to streamline processes and alleviate the workload on primary care physicians.

Escalating Influenza Incidence

Expressing concern over a significant increase in flu cases, García emphasizes the importance of face masks, ventilation, and coordination to combat the virus. Acknowledging the positive impact of mask initiatives by regional authorities, García applauds citizens who voluntarily wear masks at the onset of respiratory symptoms, showing awareness learned during the pandemic.

Proactive Approach Amid Regional Disparities

Amidst criticisms and accusations of delayed response, García defends the Ministry’s proactive stance and emphasizes collaboration through the CISNS. She calls for a differentiated approach, addressing not just the flu but the healthcare system’s collapse in certain regions. García underscores the Ministry’s role in providing timely assistance without infringing on regional competencies.

Vaccination Challenges and Prioritizing Primary Care

Acknowledging lower general vaccination rates, García deems it successful among vulnerable populations. She pledges to analyse final data for future improvements, considering the severity of this year’s flu. Highlighting the weakened state of primary care due to pre-pandemic cuts and post-pandemic challenges, García asserts the ministry’s commitment to reinforce primary care, collaborating with regional authorities.

Conclusion

Minister García navigates health challenges, proposing practical solutions and advocating collaboration to ensure consistent health protection throughout Spain. A final decision will be made on Wednesday, January 10.

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