Masks to be mandatory in Catalan hospitals again after surge in respiratory viruses

Reduced staff for holidays and absences due to flu or Covid-19 put pressure on hospitals

Staff at Palamós Hospital
Staff at Palamós Hospital / Catalan News
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

January 5, 2024 12:25 PM

January 5, 2024 01:38 PM

The Catalan government has decided to reinstate the mandatory use of masks in hospitals following a significant increase in respiratory viruses in recent weeks.

Catalan Health Minister Manel Balcells announced the new measure on Friday, thanking hospital staff for their efforts.

"The increase in respiratory viruses has led us to make masks mandatory in Catalan health centers. I appreciate the efforts of the professionals during this period of increased incidence of the flu and respiratory diseases," he said on X.

Primary Health Centers (CAPs) in Catalonia are facing "complicated" weeks due to the increase in respiratory infections typical of this period, the Catalan Society of Family and Community Medicine (CAMFiC) warned on Thursday. 

Jordi Mestres, a family doctor and representative of CAMFic, said that hospitals are facing "a lot of activity and pressure" due to reduced staff availability during the holidays and absences due to flu or Covid-19 among personnel. 

Cases of influenza have skyrocketed in recent days, and the incidence of the disease is the highest since the beginning of Covid-19, at 153 cases per 100,000 people. The high incidence of influenza in children under 4 years of age indicates that it is likely to continue to increase. 

The Spanish Minister of Health, Mónica García, has called for an extraordinary meeting of the Interregional Health Council, to be held virtually on Monday, to "evaluate, unify criteria and adopt coordinated actions" between the regions in response to the increase in respiratory viruses.

At the meeting, the Catalan government will ask the Spanish government to reinstate the automatic sick leave and responsible absenteeism measures that were in place during Covid-19.