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Spain Reintroduces Mandatory Face Masks

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Spain has reintroduced the mandatory wearing of face masks in just hospitals (for now) over Covid concerns

Face masks are mandatory in Spanish hospitals and health centres from today, Wednesday, January 10, as the country experiences a surge in cases of flu, Covid and other respiratory illnesses.

The decision made by the government- six months was after the use of masks ceased to be obligatory in health facilities and pharmacies- has been met with fierce opposition from some regional administrations.

However, Spain’s newly appointed health minister, Mónica García, overruled their objections and sought to present the move as a “common-sense measure”.

“We’ve talked and we’ve reflected deeply on the role of masks – especially in health centres and hospitals – when it comes to protecting both patients and health professionals,” she said after a meeting of regional health authorities on Monday, adding: “It’s an effective, common-sense measure and one that is backed by scientific evidence and that is well received by the public.”

Some of Spain’s 17 autonomous governments—who are typically in charge of healthcare in their separate regions—have already made it mandatory for patients to wear masks in medical facilities, but others are vehemently against the idea.

The president of the Madrid region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, is a right-wing populist who has been vocally criticizing Spain’s socialist-led coalition government. She stated that García’s decision to require mask use was needless and baseless.

She commented on X on Tuesday, “Making masks obligatory now shows improvisation.” “Madrid has fewer occurrences because it has been battling the flu for a long time, utilizing immunizations, daily monitoring, strategies, and suggestions. A weak management will use imposition as a last resort.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said last month that “several viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens are expected to continue co-circulating at variable levels during the coming months”, contributing to increased morbidity and mortality and advised people to stay home when ill. The organisation also recommended the use of masks in medical facilities.

Spain was among the last European countries to drop requirements to wear face masks following the COVID-19 pandemic, with people told to wear them on public transport until February 2023, and in health centres and pharmacies until July.

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