Automatic 5-day sick leave for people with Covid-19 symptoms

Residents will have to fill out online form as seventh coronavirus wave hits Catalonia

A Vida festival-goer gets tested for Covid-19 on July 1, 2021 (by Violeta Gumà)
A Vida festival-goer gets tested for Covid-19 on July 1, 2021 (by Violeta Gumà) / Gerard Escaich Folch

Gerard Escaich Folch | Barcelona

July 5, 2022 05:32 PM

People who have Covid-19 symptoms will be able to request an automatic 5-day sick leave, as was announced by the Catalan health department on Tuesday afternoon. This new system has been put in place as the seventh wave of the pandemic in Catalonia is causing a spike in coronavirus cases, increasing the number of visits to primary care centers.

The sick person will have to fill out a form on the Catalan health department ‘La Meva Salut’ website explaining they feel ill.

"We will not request a Covid-19 test, we are only asking whether they feel sick, if they have a fever, a cough, nasal congestion…" Gemma Craywinckel, director of the Catalan health service (CatSalut) said during a press conference. "If you are sick and you cannot go to work or work remotely, we will create a sick leave, and it will be automatically lifted on the fifth day," she added.

The new process will be coordinated by the Catalan Institute of Medical Assessments (ICAM) but personal doctors will still be able to get in touch with the person who has requested the sick leave.

If someone who has requested the sick leave feels better in less than five days, they can call the health department to ask for reincorporation. But, if someone still feels bad after these days, authorities recommend getting in touch with a doctor as soon as possible.

The idea behind the new measure is to simplify the request and reduce in-person paperwork for someone who may not be able to attend a health center.

The seventh wave of Covid-19 has pushed an increase in visits, and in the week going from June 27 to July 3, medical facilities registered 16% more attendees than the previous week. Authorities have also recorded double the sick leave requests in a week for people with Covid-19 symptoms.

"This will be a temporary measure," Craywinckel told reporters. The automatic sick leave form will be in place until the "seventh wave" starts showing signs of regression.

Medical authorities will start rolling out the infrastructure on Wednesday.

Covid-19 situation in Catalonia

The coronavirus situation in Catalonia is still changing by the week. "This or the upcoming weeks we will get to the peak of the wave, but we still do not know for sure," Catalan public health secretary, Carmen Cabezas, said.  

Right now, 75% of Covid-19 cases in the territory are due to the new Omicron subvariants, the BA.4 and the BA.5. It is "a more transmissible variant but with fewer complications, however, it has a more noticeable symptomatology compared to other variants," Cabezas added. 

Despite the fact that around 80% of the population has had the initial Covid-19 vaccination cycle, just under 50% has been boostered. Dozens of people are getting reinfected every day, as 29% of those under 50 years old and 12% of those over 50 have tested positive again.

The good news is that "Intensive Care Units are at their lowest, but since early June we have seen a progressive increase, but they are still at low historic levels," the public health secretary shared. 

Official figures released every Tuesday on this website show that there were 38,273 Covid-19 cases diagnosed from June 27 to July 3, 2022, while 41 people with the virus died over the same period.