Spain reintroduces face mask rules after seeing a surge in COVID and flu cases

Wednesday, January 10, 2024
 – The Spanish government has reintroduced face masks in hospitals and healthcare centres from today after a surge in COVID-19 and flu cases in the country, the Health Ministry said.

The new leftist minority coalition government is imposing the measure despite opposition from most of Spain's 17 autonomous regions.

'We are talking about putting on a mask when you enter a health centre and taking it off when you leave,' Health Minister Monica Garcia told Cadena Ser radio.

'I don't think it is any drama. It is a basic and simple measure of the first order,' she added.

Spain's hospitals have come under immense pressure in recent weeks following a spike in cases of flu, Covid-19, and other respiratory illnesses.

Ms Garcia's ministry decided to impose the measure after failing to reach an agreement with regional health authorities, many of whom argued that mask use should be recommended but not obligatory.

Regional governments are in charge of healthcare although the central government can intervene if it deems it necessary.

Six regions have already introduced the measure and masks have been commonly used on streets and public transport and in health centres in recent months.

Among them is the Canary Islands, which sees hundreds of thousands of British holidaymakers visit every year.

On Tuesday it became obligatory to use masks in health centres, chemists and hospitals throughout the Canaries which include Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria.

The Canary government says the rule will remain in force while the epidemic peak lasts.

Valencia's health department also implemented the mandatory use of masks in health centres on Friday.

The preventive measure was considered necessary due to the high incidence rate of 1,501 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

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