The Council of Ministers will foreseeably approve this Tuesday the end of the mandatory mask in health centers, social health centers and pharmacies, where they will become recommended, but their imperative use will continue in hospital areas with critical and immunosuppressed patients, operating rooms and intensive care units.
The Minister of Health, José Miñones, already advanced it last week in an interview on Onda Cero in which he recalled that the new norm will advise the “necessary self-protection” in case of having symptoms of Covid-19 or other respiratory infections.
Health and the autonomous communities agreed on June 23 to withdraw the mandatory nature of masks in these spaces in the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System (SNS). In this way, masks will become recommended, except in some areas with vulnerable patients, where they will continue to be imperative. As was the case before the pandemic, the face mask will remain in hospital areas with critically ill patients, such as cancer units, operating rooms and ICUs.
This was the last major measure that had been in force since the Covid pandemic broke out in March 2020. Four months ago, on February 8, Spain ceased to be the only country in Europe that maintained the mandatory use of masks in public transport.
This measure came months after it was approved by the rest of the countries on the continent, although in many the recommendation to use it in closed spaces and on public transport in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus continued to be maintained.
The removal of masks in transport occurred almost a year after their use ceased to be mandatory abroad, a measure approved on February 10, 2022, and a few months later (on April 20, 2022) after It is no longer used indoors.
In this context, the Scientific Committee of the Illustrious College of Physicians of Madrid (ICOMEM) presented a new position document on Covid-19 and emerging pathogens in which it advocates the possibility of assessing the mandatory use of masks in health and social health centers in peak incidence of respiratory infections.
These experts stress that mandatory use should be assessed, “at least in spaces where contact with patients occurs”, seasonally, for example, from December to February, when the incidence of respiratory infections is high, with epidemic figures in the case of the flu.
Thus, although “given the current low risk of Covid-19 and that there is no high transmission of other respiratory diseases, it seems disproportionate to maintain the mandatory use of masks”, they leave open the possibility of their use “depending on the results of the epidemiological surveillance”. “It would be necessary to reconsider returning to the obligation in periods with a high incidence of respiratory infections,” they point out.
Once published in the Official State Gazette (BOE), the masks will become recommended and even “highly recommended” in certain healthcare settings with vulnerable patients and in case of respiratory infection symptoms.
The first step was taken last February and Spain put an end to the mandatory mask on public transport given the good epidemiological evolution of the incidence of coronavirus.
Thus, it was withdrawn on trains, planes, buses and the subway, where it was imperative since May 2020, and its obligation in opticians, orthopedics and audioprosthesis centers was also ended.