Bewilderment and outrage among the toilets by the package of measures announced by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to stop the expansion of the sixth wave in Spain. If the experts recognized that the obligation to wear a mask outdoors again, which ceased to be such six months ago, was meaningless and, moreover, was not contemplated in the document of the Alerts Presentation that the Chief Executive took to the Conference of Presidents, today they show their amazement to ‘El Periódico de España’, a medium that belongs to the same editorial group as this newspaper. Without proposing any limitation in the interiors, where the true risk of contagion is, they say, that measure is only cosmetic and useless. “The image offered by the Government and autonomies of Pachanga and marketing outside of science it’s desperate “, they criticize from the Navarra Medical Union, one of the seven communities that had asked the president to use the measure again to stop the sixth wave.
Although the rumor circulated incessantly in the last hours and seven communities-Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha, Valencian Community, Galicia, Navarra, Castilla y León and the Basque Country– They requested the return to the outdoor mask, the truth is that all the experts consulted by this means considered that this proposal would be discarded as useless and because, of all the measures to be adopted, it was the one that, without a doubt, had the least forcefulness when facing the unstoppable expansion of the omicron variant.
This was explained to this newspaper by the epidemiologist Manuel Franco, professor of the University of Alcalá (Madrid), who was blunt: “It is a more political measure than really epidemiological or scientific. The problem is not on the outside, it is on the inside and this has already been well studied. We know that, in a stuffy and crowded interior for a long time, there is a risk up to 20 times higher of infecting you. “Today, he insists when he talks to this newspaper: “It’s useless”.
There’s only one thing worse than not taking action: taking unhelpful action.
– Monica Garcia (@Monica_Garcia_G) December 22, 2021
A disappointing move
“For me this measure is a disappointment because it does not focus where there are problems. I agree with Pere Aragonès (president of the Generalitat de Catalunya) that the mask and vaccination cannot be the only thing. If measures are not taken harder and more forceful it is a serious irresponsibility“, says one of the experts consulted, Joan Carles March.
In addition, the measure has caused greater surprise because, to the Conference of Presidents Sánchez took a series of measures that the experts of the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities have collected in a document agreed last Friday by the Alerts Presentation, Preparedness and Response Plans as advanced in exclusive El Periódico de España. In this text, in no case does it speak of re-implanting the mandatory mask.
There is evidence that has already been contrasted during the pandemic:
1⃣ Hydroalcoholic gels are of little or no use.
2⃣ The infection occurs mainly in poorly ventilated closed spaces.
3⃣ The mask is useful indoors, not outdoors if there is interpersonal distance.
— Gorka Orive (@gorka_orive) December 21, 2021
Moreover, the text affects another aspect: the restrictions mainly affected the hospitality industry. The locals, according to what the Alerts Report recommended, should reduce their capacity inside by half and prevent there from being more than six diners per table and drinks at the bar and at 11:00 pm they will have to close at level 3 (high risk). If the autonomy had reached alert level 4 (very high), in which it is already Spain, the interiors were directly closed.
An ineffective measure
“It has little effectiveness except in cases of crowds. It is one of the gentlest measures to try to cut the transmission of the virus, so that the infections are not so high and that it costs relatively little to implement, although we are all very tired. It does not have much cost and we have to wait if this wave of infections effectively leads to a saturation of the health system or finally the vaccines manage to protect “, defends María Mercedes Sarmiento, researcher at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC).
From Navarra, one of the communities that attended the meeting with the intention of asking Sánchez to return to the mask outdoors, the general secretary of the Medical Union, Alberto Perez, is much harder: “The image offered by the Government and autonomies of Pachanga and marketing outside of science it’s maddening, “he says.
“Without any limitations to meetings, without specifying needs for air filters or ventilation, it is quite an aesthetic measure.” says the doctor Ángela Hernández Puente.
In Madrid, Angela Hernandez Puente. Deputy Secretary General of the Association of Physicians and Higher Graduates (AMYTS), reflects for this newspaper: “It is aesthetic. We already know that the virus spreads through the air. By wearing the mask outdoors you make sure that people wear them and there is a better chance that they will keep it indoors, but without any limitations to meetings, without specifying needs for air filters or ventilation, it is quite an aesthetic measure “.
Other proposals to tackle the crisis
Another of the axes of the health policy put forward by President Sánchez to end the spread of the omicron variant is the intensification and acceleration of the vaccination process with a series of objectives by age groups, with respect to the third dose or pediatric vaccines from now until April. “Vaccines undoubtedly protect against serious disease and death in a very high percentage, but we must take into account the number of infections so high. In a few weeks, we will see if the wave stops or not,” he says. scientist Mercedes Jiménez.
“Even so, Primary Care is collapsed because it has not been reinforced enough and that is the responsibility of the autonomous communities,” adds the researcher. TO Ángela Hernández Puente, what worries you is also the chapter on strengthening human resources. Sánchez has advanced that the number of available health professionals will be increased and their working conditions will improve, reducing temporary work to below 8%.
“We know there is a shortage of doctors and nurses and that every year a good number decide to go outside of Spain. We export excellently trained professionals and, nevertheless, we enable other non-community doctors to work, whose training we hope is the best possible. I would prefer to see better conditions for importing talent and not exporting, “adds the Amyts representative.
“” It seems a patchwork effect rather than a set of reasonable measures, “they say from the Union of Doctors of Navarra about calling retired physicians.
The Government contemplates, in addition to having the Army, call pre-retired or retired health workers to help in this vaccination, something that, in that case for the care of the sick who overflowed health centers or hospitals, already happened in the full and dramatic first wave. “It looks like a gimmicky patch more than a set of reasonable measures. Let’s see what appears in the BOE. The legal qualification for hiring retirees, early retirees, and doctors with extra-community degrees (Without homologation?) Is to repeat instructions that at the time were ineffective “, they conclude from the Navarra Medical Union.