First great little notice of COVID-19 during the de-escalation: the Lleida Health Department has decided to postpone its request for the phase 1 to 2 pass after observing a rebound in the province. AND the origin of this rebound is placed by the technicians on a birthday attended by 20 people, double what is allowed in phase 1. The Government of Spain and international organizations have reiterated that the de-escalation process is a “trial and error” in which, above all, it is necessary to appeal to “individual responsibility”, so as not to make mistakes like this that involve steps back or stagnation.
Experts warn that, already confused, it is necessary to remain strict with three measures: physical distance, hygiene, and masks. In that order. “Especially these first 15 or 20 days. They are crucial. They are the first, then we will see how the virus behaves while we learn to control it, detect outbreaks, track it. And keep in mind that not for what you can affect you, but others “, summarizes Milagros García Barbero, former director of Integrated Services of the World Health Organization (WHO). Ildefonso Hernández, former general director of Public Health and spokesman for the Spanish Society of Public Health, asks for it the same: “This transition is important. On whether it can be well controlled, it depends that little by little progress can be made. everything is ready, the more time passes the more the health system and capacity will go. You have to be very careful now not to take steps back. “
Health spokesman Fernando Simón showed concern on Tuesday. The 10 days of national mourning that the Government has decreed to honor the victims of the coronavirus are of little use if we do not “add security measures”, according to him. “We must ensure that the safety distance is maintained or that the proximity is as short as possible” when we meet again in phase 1 or 2 with friends, family and acquaintances, he said. And this Wednesday he was referring directly to Lleida’s birthday. “We all look forward to throwing parties with our families,” but “an innocent little party” can lead to “an outbreak that may be the start of another epidemic wave“We are not all in a new normal because we have to go slowly: there is still risk,” he settled.
That is another thing in which the scientists agree: the de-escalation, as much as certain messages are being launched from the central and regional institutions about that we are “getting out” of the crisis, it is not the end of anything. The virus is still with us, and this process responds solely to an attempt to balance the country’s health, economic and social needs. “If this were a 10-kilometer race, we would be more or less at kilometer 1.5. We cannot finish this part out of shape and without strength, because we have a lot left”, illustrated Beatriz González López-Valcárcel, advisor to the Ministry of Science and of the Canarian government.
Better not to hug, and better outdoors
Strictly speaking, the images that we are seeing these days in phase 1, of grandparents holding grandchildren in their reunions on terraces, are not entirely prudent. Neither are hugs between friends. García Barbero is very cautious: “Keeping the distance is essential. If you can avoid hugging, the better. This is contagious and asymptomatic and follows the risk when meeting with people who do not live together. The vast majority, 95% according to the seroprevalence study from the Ministry, we are still susceptible and the virus is still with us. ” Everyone assumes that there will be a regrowth, but the objective is that it does not get out of control and that it does not occur prematurely, García Barbero repeats: “No one has a crystal ball to know if it could be in October or before. And right now we are not we can allow a saturation of the centers again. “
There are ways to minimize the dangers in family and friendly reunions that will inevitably occur. Benito Almirante, spokesman for the Spanish Society for Microbiology and head of the Infectious Diseases unit at the Vall d’Hebrón Hospital, points out some. Although it is necessary to “try” to the maximum physical distance, if there are approaches, you must know that the danger increases with the duration of these: “The longer you are, the more viruses jump.” “A hug by itself is risky, especially because it is the way to break the most basic rule, it is almost something symbolic, once you embrace you no longer stay a meter and a half,” he says. “But above all it is being a long time within walking distance. Close contact is considered less than a meter and a half and for a time greater than 15 minutes.”
“A place that has been identified as risky and in which many outbreaks have arisen have been the coral groups, where people in an interior place force their voices, secrete drops with it, and are close,” continues the doctor. Because another way to reduce the danger is to meet outdoors, better than in houses and premises. That factor, exterior better than interior, is emphasized by all specialists. “A long sitting session, with everyone very close together, is a clear place for an outbreak if someone is infected, and nobody can know for sure that they are not infected,” synthesizes Ildefonso Hernández.
All these instructions do not have to last forever, but especially during de-escalation, while defining the ‘social norms’ of the ‘new normal’ that will lead us to a situation totally controlled by a vaccine. “There is no clear moment when hugging will begin to be good or bad,” Almirante adds. He is realistic and knows that after two months apart people are going to hug each other, and that is why he stresses that “it is not saying that you do not give your grandson a hug while there is no vaccine, I myself refuse. Just that you have common sense and hygiene is extreme. What has happened in Lleida has been, above all, because many people have been together, for a long time, and without any protection, “and they have done so at one point, that of de-escalation, which is still very delicate.
Towards a society without fear, but with precautions
How can we get used, at least for a time, to stop doing, or doing much less, something that comes as naturally as giving hugs and kisses to our parents, friends and nephews? Eparquio Delgado, a health psychologist, responds to this: “When we now think that a behavior is too ingrained to change it, we have to start from an idea: it was also ingrained to watch football every weekend, visit our partners and go out to eat. And for two months hundreds of millions of people have stopped doing it. Why have they done it? In relation to a context. With the right conditions, our behavior is capable of changing drastically. If three months ago they tell me not to I can hug my mother more because yes, I don’t listen. If they tell me it’s because she has a disease that puts her at risk, I do listen. “
Now the central and regional governments have a clear mission, which is to correctly convey the message of why you should still wait a bit to hug your mother and why that can put her health and that of everyone at risk. The infectious disease specialist Benito Almirante also points out what they have to balance with: “A society that is intimidated and panicked cannot come out of this. It would be one of the worst consequences. A society must come forward, with adequate internalized precautions but without looking at you suspect next door all the time. “