The Council of Ministers has approved this Tuesday the Royal Decree that puts an end to the Covid-19 health crisis in Spain and, therefore, to the obligatory use of masks in health centres, hospitals, pharmacies and socio-health centres, as announced at a press conference by the Minister of Health, José Miñones.
“The Centre for the Coordination of Alerts and Health Emergencies, in a consensual manner and with the help of the experts from each of the Autonomous Regions, considered that Covid-19 has been controlled and, although the disease is still present, it no longer represents a health crisis situation”, said Miñones, who clarified that its entry into force will be effective the same day it is published in the Official State Gazette (BOE).
The health crisis has been overcome
The minister recalled that the epidemiological situation, since November 2022, shows “a decreasing trend” in terms of deaths and hospitalisations due to SARS-CoV-2. This, together with the fact of a lower virulence of the Omicron variant, the high vaccination rate of the Spanish population (93%) and the natural infection rate of the Spanish population, leads to the conclusion that “this disease no longer constitutes a health crisis situation in Spain”, he insisted.
Miñones clarified that “the situation is now the same as it was before the crisis decree and, therefore, the situation before 2020”. Therefore, “today in the Council of Ministers on 3 July we have agreed, three years after the start of the pandemic, to put an end to the health crisis caused by Covid-19 and we have adopted that, in addition, all the extraordinary measures that had been agreed linked to this health crisis will lapse and with special attention, as expected, the compulsory use of masks wherever they were maintained,” he added.
“We believe that today we are taking a very important step, that today we are closing an episode caused by the pandemic that has wreaked havoc throughout the world, leaving millions infected and thousands dead. And today we must, as I say, look back with lessons learned, he said.
Masks: “Highly recommended but not compulsory”
With regard to the end of the compulsory use of masks, he recalled that expert advice stresses the need for a “culture of responsibility”.
Although the crisis is over, he added that “its use is still highly recommended but not compulsory”. “We also believe that it is important to maintain the culture of responsibility that we have acquired over the years. I think it is very important to look back and learn from all this.
“The recommendations focus on health centres, on the need to reinforce the use of masks in certain contexts and always for those people who are symptomatic in shared spaces, such as common rooms in hospitals, but also in the case of professionals,” he said.
It will also be recommended that healthcare professionals wear it when they are dealing with symptomatic cases or patients admitted to the ICU. “In patient units that are vulnerable, the use of the mask is recommended, as in the case of any person with symptoms,” the minister reiterated.
Finally, he recalled that a new vaccination campaign against Covid-19 will be launched in Spain from September to October for the over-60s, which will include the Spanish vaccine, also for healthcare professionals.