February 26. 2024. 5:11

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Spanish patient associations urge caution as mask rules lifted

The Patient Association has called for prudence and respect for the vulnerable while the Society of Epidemiology has recommended the wearing of facemasks in special circumstances as Spain has started to lift mandatory facemask rules in different settings.

The government gave its green light Tuesday to lift the mandatory use of facemasks in transport and health establishments, such as opticians and orthopaedics but decided they will remain mandatory in hospitals, social health centres, and pharmacies, Health Minister Carolina Darias announced at a press conference in Madrid.

Though this makes Spain the last EU country, after Germany, to have lifted its mandatory facemask rules for transportation, the country’s Society of Epidemiology nevertheless encouraged people to keep using face masks under specific circumstances.

It is still particularly recommended for people who have respiratory symptoms compatible with COVID-19, flu, cold, and other respiratory infections, it stressed in a press release.

The same applies to vulnerable people with a higher risk of developing serious illnesses, such as the elderly, pregnant women and people with cardiovascular diseases, cancer or immunosuppression, it added.

The Spanish Platform of Patients said that as Spain lifts some of the mandatory facemask rules, “vulnerable people should not be forgotten”.

It also called for prudence “given the time of year we are in, which is very conducive to an increase in respiratory infections”.

Spain, which has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates among EU countries (86%), is currently undergoing “a situation of enormous stability in terms of COVID”, with one of the lowest rates, “if not the lowest”, of the entire pandemic, Darias stressed.

(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)