Overcrowded outpatient clinics: when there is no choice but to go to work with covid symptoms

The scene like that of Lucilla (name changed to preserve identity) has been repeated over and over again this past week. This is your case: on Thursday he receives a call from a close contact to tell him that he is positive in covid-19. They had been together on Wednesday. Lucila has some symptoms that could be compatible with the virus, such as stuffy nose and runny nose. You talk to your company and they tell you that you need sick leave. Calls your health center for a test, but can not contact. He tries again and again. “If I didn't call 15 or 20 times, I didn't call at all. I melted the phone, "he says. Without success, and with a negative pharmacy antigen test, you must go to work. “I go by public transport and I spend eight hours locked in a room with colleagues with masks, but without ventilation", Add. Today another contact from the same group has also tested positive. She, no longer symptoms, will return to her post tomorrow. When in doubt, you only have one option: pay a laboratory.

Something similar happened to Luz. "On Thursday a colleague called the company because her partner was positive, but she had to go. Until he was not ill, he continued in the office. At home, she tested positive when she underwent an antigen test and I, who had eaten with her on Tuesday, had to keep going to work, "she says.

Exceptions to quarantine

All this happens because, since the middle of the year and contrary to what happens in Catalonia, contacts with a complete vaccination schedule do not have to make quarantine as a general rule. The latest update of the strategy for the control of covid of the Ministry of Health collects as an exception if it is a contact of a case produced by the omicron variant, beta or gamma. But, unless it's part of an outbreak that's already under control, how do you know what it is if you can't get an appointment for a PCR given the saturation of primary care?

In Catalonia, given the expansion of the omicron variant, Salut has changed the protocol so that all close contacts of vaccinated positives are isolated for 10 days. Now, to withdraw, "the doctor will have to skip the legal norm" that exists at the national level, he explains. Francisco José Sáez, head of the occupational health working group of the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians (SEMG).

Few PCRs in Madrid

"In Madrid We have a bigger problem, and that is that there has been a political shift. Is trying to lower its performance at high economic cost they have ”, assures the doctor. To patients who manage to contact their health centers (or who appear there) they are tested for antigens in the majority. The problem is that they are indicated for specific cases. It is not useful, for example, if the contact is asymptomatic, which is why other communities opt directly for PCR. They do do these tests in hospitals.

Too delays diagnosis (and case finding) that in some health centers “the PCR request has been transferred to the Isabel Zendal hospital to justify the money allocated to it ”. "The problem is that his laboratory is for Public Health, and it is not open on weekends or holidays," says Sáez.

The Community of Madrid has created the specific primary care covid units (UACov) to make the uptake. But with "the increase in cases, a lot of people are left out." With primary care emergencies focused on vaccination, they are not calling holidays either.

That is the case of María, who was with her boyfriend on December 6, two days before testing positive. Her partner gave her details to trackers up to three times, but no one called her. María spoke with the number of the Community of Madrid for health information, where they urged her to contact her health center. "It was impossible. Either they put you on hold or they hung up on you directly”, He assures. With no possibility of having a PCR done unless he went to a hospital, he chose to telework.

If someone is very clear that they are infected, they can present the medical report to your company up to 15 days later retroactively. But Sergi Delgado presented with all the symptoms at the health center to have a PCR for another reason. "I didn't need it for a sick leave, but I wanted to be followed up," he says. It was positive but it did not succeed.


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