Spain imposes compulsory use of surgical masks in hospitals due to the surge in flu and Covid cases.

Despite opposition from some regional administrations, rules have been reintroduced as a “commonsense measure”. Starting from Wednesday, face masks will be mandatory in hospitals and health centres in Spain due to a surge in flu, Covid, and other respiratory illnesses.

The decision by the government comes six months after the use of masks ceased to be obligatory in health facilities and pharmacies. However, Spain’s new health minister, Mónica García, overruled objections and emphasized that the move is an effective and well-supported measure.

“We’ve carefully considered the role of masks, especially in health centres and hospitals, in terms of protecting patients and healthcare professionals,” she stated after a meeting with regional health authorities on Monday. “This is a commonsense measure that is backed by scientific evidence and has been positively received by the public.”

While some of Spain’s 17 autonomous governments had already mandated the wearing of masks in health facilities, others strongly oppose the decision. Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the rightwing populist president of the Madrid region, criticized the central government’s imposition of mask use, considering it unfounded and unnecessary.

On Tuesday, Ayuso wrote, “Making masks obligatory now shows improvisation. Madrid has been proactively working against flu for a long time with strategies, recommendations, daily monitoring, vaccinations… Imposition through imposition is the resort of a weak manager.”

Last month, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control warned that several viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens are expected to continue circulating at variable levels, leading to increased morbidity and mortality. The body advised people to stay home when ill and recommended the use of masks in medical facilities.

The World Health Organization reported that by the end of 2023, Spain had confirmed nearly 14 million Covid cases and recorded almost 122,000 deaths from the virus.

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