Quarantines for asymptomatic and mildly positive people are lifted. Those who do not belong to a risk group do not have to undergo a test, so they will not know whether they are infected or not. If they do know, they should avoid close contact and be strict with other measures and not remove masks.
The decision of the Public Health Commission, which brings together the Ministry and the autonomous regions, has made it effective that from today, Monday, mild or asymptomatic cases of covid will not only not be counted and tested, but will also not be kept in isolation, has caused surprise and concern among doctors and epidemiologists.
The Public Health Commission on Tuesday gave the green light to the new strategy that will standardise covid from 28 March, when isolation of asymptomatic people will be eliminated and testing will cease across the board.
Diagnostic tests will focus on people (over 60, immunocompromised and pregnant women) and vulnerable areas (health and social and health care), as well as severe cases, which will now be the focus of surveillance.
Public Health justifies that the agreed changes are based on the fact that “the high levels of immunity reached in the Spanish population have determined a change in the epidemiology of covid-19 that supports the transition towards a different strategy that monitors and directs actions to people and areas of greater vulnerability and monitors severe cases of covid-19, and in vulnerable areas and people”.
Surveillance in this transition phase will give way to a consolidated acute respiratory infections surveillance system that should form the sentinel surveillance systems for acute respiratory infections (ARIs).
In relation to covid-19 control in the general population, mild and asymptomatic confirmed cases will not be isolated and close contacts will not be quarantined. In this regard, recommendations will be issued regarding preventive measures such as the use of masks in all settings and avoiding contact with vulnerable people.
In vulnerable areas, such as health care or socio-health care centres, “specific isolation and control measures may be implemented”, although the Health Ministry does not provide further details.
These modifications have been communicated and assessed jointly with the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) and “mechanisms have been established to guarantee coordination with surveillance at European level and the correct inclusion of the information generated in Spain in the reports and documents monitoring the pandemic in the European Union”.
Likewise, the Health Ministry recalls that the extraordinary surveillance and control structures put in place during the pandemic “will remain operational to monitor key indicators that allow early detection of changes in the situation that may require reimplementing control measures”, reports Europa Press.
“This strategy will remain in force as long as there is no significant change in the trend that indicates an uncontrolled circulation of SARS-CoV-2 or a change in the epidemiological situation that requires re-establishing surveillance and control measures at the proposal of the Alerts and Preparedness and Response Plans,” the Ministry reiterated in a statement.
The relaxation is due to the fact that, thanks to the wide vaccination coverage, the healthcare pressure remains at “low risk”, with less than 5% of covid patients in hospitals and less than 10% in the ICUs.
The SEI president points out that in European countries where all restrictions have been lifted “there are problems and there is already beginning to be a small upturn in hospitalisation”. In Spain, he continues, “we don’t know what the incidence is” because, he insists, fewer tests are being done. For this reason, he asks that, in this new scenario, “the moment there is the slightest change in the trend, we should remit and return to control”.
For Dr López-Hoyos, therefore, “it may still be too early” to eliminate quarantines in positive cases, and he therefore asks the population to take special care and that those infected wear FFP2 masks to protect the most vulnerable and avoid crowded places.