The Ministry of Health and the Autonomous Communities are about to take a new step in coexistence with the covid virus. The Public Health Commission has on the table the decision to eliminate quarantines for close contacts of infected people, which continue to be maintained for the unvaccinated. Sources from this body confirm to EL PAÍS that there is both technical and political consensus for this decision, which will probably be taken during the meeting that this body will hold on Tuesday.
Those infected will, for the time being, have to continue self-isolating for seven days from the time they showed symptoms, which can be extended for up to 10 if they persist. So far, close contacts of those infected can continue to lead normal lives if they have the full vaccination schedule, but not those who haven’t received it, who must quarantine for 10 days afterwards. close contact. This concerns only 9% of adults, those who have not been vaccinated, but the vast majority of children. Only 16.7% He has both doses. The former has so far reached 57.1%.
A typical case would be that a parent has covid. The unvaccinated child must be quarantined for 10 days after the last contact with the infected person. Since the new measure has been approved, she will be able to continue going to school, unless it is the little one who tests positive, who must be isolated.
This will also, predictably, change the school quarantine protocol for children and primary. So far, students in classes in which four or more children have tested positive for covid must keep it. By eliminating them, those infected will have to isolate themselves, but as expected, the rest of the class will be able to continue as normal. The details of the decision will be known on Tuesday, after the meeting of the directors of public health of the ministry and the autonomous communities.
Catalonia had already gone ahead and since this week it has eliminated not only school quarantines, but also the number of cases in these areas. In other words, parents and schools don’t have to communicate if the reason for students’ absence from class is due to the coronavirus.
In the opinion of Pedro Gullón, of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology, this change is logical: “If quarantines were no longer maintained for vaccinated people, it made little sense to leave quarantines to people who did not didn’t have the full guideline. This strategy is useful when applied to the whole population or when there is a huge difference in transmission risk between one and the other. But since the arrival of omicron it’s not that big. When it is approved, I believe that the message must be sent that this does not imply doing nothing. People with close contacts should be encouraged to avoid places where they can spread it, monitor their symptoms, get tested…”
With this new advance, the restrictions in place for all of Spain are practically reduced to masks in enclosed spaces, once the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System approved on February 16 a return to 100% capacity during the sport events. The regional governments that kept them in force on their territories have been reducing them for a few weeks. The covid passport for the hotel industry, which was still mandatory in two autonomies, declined this week in the Valencian Community and does so this Saturday in Galicia.
None of the easing of measures appears to have hindered the bearish trend of the pandemic, which stood at 613 as of Friday. cases per 100,000 population. The contagion alert therefore remains at its highest (above 500). Technicians approved this threshold in November, before the expansion of the omicron variant, with a transmission capacity that exceeded all expectations.
Although Spain has been above this threshold for more than two months (since December 17), hospital occupancy has always been well below the previous big wave, the third, although it exceeded the fourth and fifth. This Friday, the percentage of beds occupied upstairs by covid patients was 5.8%, which rose to 11.3% in intensive care units. At the covid traffic light, the risk for both is “medium”, and they are about to reach a low (less than 5% and 10%, respectively).
The trend of the wave was atypical compared to previous ones. Before infections subsided, the number of people hospitalized began to decline, thanks to less severity of the omicron variant and the high percentage of people vaccinated during this sixth epidemic wave. However, the high number of cases produced more deaths than in the previous two waves. Since the cumulative incidence began to rise, in mid-November, health reports have added nearly 12,000 deaths from covid.
Until the levels of infections are a little lower, the Ministry of Health does not want to raise what would be the great symbol of the end of the health emergency that has been raging in Spain for two years: eliminating the use of masks indoors. Although other countries, such as Denmark, have already abandoned them, and others such as the United States are relaxing their obligation, Health has always preferred to remain cautious. It’s a rule that has remained in effect since it came into force in the spring of 2020. Not even in times of lower transmission, like the summer of that year or the fall of 2021, with fewer than 50 cases per 100,000. inhabitants. , the department has taken this step.
This is something that will predictably happen in the coming months, should transmission return to these levels. Contrary to what has happened so far, the government is starting to turn the page on the pandemic and is preparing for a scenario based on coexistence with the virus, as long as a new variant does not again come to disrupt the planes.