The Coordination Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES) declares the “end of the health crisis” due to COVID-19 in Spain. Faced with this situation, the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities have agreed this Friday by consensus that the use of masks in hospitals, health centers, pharmacies and residences will become a recommendation and not an obligation. To make the measure effective, it must go through the Council of Ministers.
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The head of Health had already indicated that the indications of the experts would be followed. Specifically, José Miñones had entrusted the decision to the CCAES report, presented this Friday to the autonomous communities in the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System and where all parties have agreed to eliminate the obligation to wear masks in social and health centers. At the end of the meeting, the minister explained that “the experts transfer the end of the health crisis and replace the norm that until now forced the use of the mask in certain spaces to move on to the recommended use and good practices.” Specifically, until now the face mask was still mandatory in social-health centers, such as hospitals, dentists, physiotherapy clinics, pharmacies, health centers and in the common areas of nursing homes, where the rooms were excepted, as they were considered the resident’s home.
“After consulting the Interterritorial Council and being seconded by all those present, the proposal for the end of the health crisis and the rest of the measures for its consideration will be transferred,” explained Miñones. The Council of Ministers had already approved the end of the mask on public transport on February 7 and the World Health Organization (WHO) decreed in early May the end of the health emergency due to COVID-19. Its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, indicated then that “for more than a year, the pandemic has had a downward trend.” It is these data and this favorable epidemiological evolution in Spain that justifies the decision of the CCAES.
Precisely, Miñones has explained that, since the WHO declaration, at the beginning of May, it had not been possible to hold any Interterritorial Council to adapt the epidemiological situation in Spain or lift the mandatory nature of the mask in social-health centers, due to the electoral period that ended on May 28. “We did not want to leave this very important plenary session unfulfilled because in two weeks a new electoral period would begin, August would be non-working days and until September the important decisions we have made today would not be able to be carried out,” he justified.
The autonomous communities had also shown their willingness to withdraw the obligation in social and health centers. The Madrid counselor, Enrique Ruiz-Escudero, now in office, has accused the Ministry of promoting the measure for “purely electoral” purposes in a new attempt to confront the central government at the expense of the pandemic. Ruiz-Escudero himself has been asking for the obligation to be withdrawn in hospitals since April.
The Interterritorial Council this Friday has also addressed the transfer of some 700 million euros from the ministry to the autonomous communities. Specifically, as Miñones explained, “more than 600 million for the improvement of primary care, through the MINAP plan, as well as for mental health.” Two lines, said the minister, which are “strategic for this Government”. In addition, another three million euros will be allocated to the strategy against rare and neurodegenerative diseases.
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