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Spain to reintroduce mandatory face mask wearing in hospitals after spike in flu and COVID cases | World News


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Spain is to reintroduce the mandatory wearing of face masks in hospitals after a spike in flu and COVID cases.

The nationwide mandate by Spain’s central government is due to come into force on 10 January – despite opposition from some regional health authorities.

Spain’s minister of health, Monica Garcia, said the move was necessary to protect healthcare professionals.

“We are talking about putting on a mask when you enter a health centre and taking it off when you leave,” Ms Garcia told Spain’s Cadena Ser radio.

“I don’t think it is any drama. It is a basic and simple measure of the first order,” she added.

Spain's Minister of Health, Monica Garcia, gives a press conference after the meeting with the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS), at the headquarters of the Ministry, on December 21, 2023,
Spain’s minister of health, Monica Garcia. File pic: AP

It comes after six areas, including Valencia, Catalonia, Murcia, and the Canary Islands, introduced regional mask-wearing mandates.

Spain’s central government proposed on Monday extending that requirement nationwide but received pushback from other regions – many of whom argued that mask use should be recommended but not obligatory.

Ms Garcia’s ministry decided to impose the measure after failing to reach an agreement with the regional health authorities.

While regional governments are in charge of healthcare in Spain, the central government can intervene if it deems it necessary.

Spain declared a formal end to the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic last July, saying people no longer needed to wear masks in health and care centres and pharmacies.

It was one of the last countries in Europe to do so.

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However, it has seen a spike in cases of COVID, flu and other respiratory illnesses over the Christmas and New Year period, in what is being labelled a “tridemic”.

According to data published by the state-backed Carlos III Health Institute, in the last week of 2023, flu cases spiked 75 per cent in Spain, with 4,383 cases for every 100,000 people.

COVID-19 cases recently stabilised, with only 10 per cent of tests positive at the end of 2023, according to the institute.

However, it added the virus is causing a rising number of hospital admissions, especially among older people.

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Written by: radioroxi

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