Spain takes another step forward in the new way of managing and living with the virus. The Public Health Commission, formed by the general directors of the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities, will agree this Tuesday to end all quarantines of close contacts, also in those not vaccinated. The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, announced that there was "unanimity" for it to go ahead at the meeting scheduled for today. "It is going to be considered, because there is unanimity, lifting the quarantines of close contacts regardless of the person's vaccination status," Sánchez said. in an interview on Spanish Television.
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The debate on the end of the quarantines has been on the table for a few weeks. Three months ago it was decided to exempt the vaccinated from isolation if they had been in close contact (that is, 15 minutes or more without a mask) with a positive. They could now lead a normal life. Now, the norm extends it to all people. Also to boys and girls, the population group with the lowest vaccination coverage. Only 18% of the population between 5 and 11 years old has the complete guideline. There is a 9% of adults who are not vaccinated either.
The quarantines of close contacts were being, above all, a headache for families with children, since the minors, not being vaccinated, had to stay home in case of contact and their vaccinated parents did not. With the sixth wave in decline and a vaccination rate throughout the country that exceeds 92% among those over 12 years of age, Catalonia is already ahead of the Commission and last Wednesday it unilaterally abolished school quarantines. In addition, the Government abolished the obligation for families and centers to communicate if a minor has COVID-19.
The positives still maintain mandatory isolation for at least seven days. This change does not affect the infected. Several communities have asked in recent weeks for the number of days to be reduced, but the matter is not expected to be discussed this Tuesday.
A step included in the new strategy
The elimination of quarantines is part of the new strategy of "surveillance and control of COVID-19 after the acute phase" of the pandemic, advanced by elDiario.es, although this will not go into full force at least until hospitals in most communities are at a low risk level. Putting an end to mandatory quarantines means moving towards a new way of living with the virus, which "reduces pressure" on mild or asymptomatic infections and focuses on the elderly and vulnerable.
The autonomous communities have already received the first draft of the document, agreed by the Alerts Report of the Ministry of Health, and it is foreseeable that the details will be refined in the coming weeks. One of the main measures of the strategy is the end of mandatory and "strict" isolation of mild and asymptomatic cases, except if they work in vulnerable environments or are caregivers. Isolating yourself would happen, if nothing changes, to be a recommendation.
The end of the mask indoors, "very soon"
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, also announced in the interview on TVE that "very soon" the indoor mask will no longer be mandatory due to the "horizon of de-escalation" that the pandemic is experiencing. He did not specify a date, but the chief executive assured that it is a decision that will be taken "very soon" with the consensus of the scientific community and the autonomous communities.
The mask is the only national restriction still in force and is regulated by law. The Spanish Association of Pediatrics proposed a few weeks ago, with a certain degree of controversy, to start removing the face mask in the earliest school years and some communities, such as Madrid, also suggested that it was time to start thinking about it.