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Catalan epidemiologist Antoni Trilla recommends wearing a face mask on public transport or in enclosed places with large concentrations of people, especially for anyone at risk. And he advises the same for family gatherings as Catalans approach the last big day on the Christmas calendar, Dia de Reis, or Epiphany, on January 6th: "If there is someone who is sick, then your grandmother or anyone who is at risk should wear a mask and limit contact time, don't spend too much time giving your gifts," notes Trilla, who is professor of medicine at the University of Barcelona and head of preventive medicine at the city's Hospital Clínic. The doctor thus urges voluntary caution to reduce the risk of contagion of 'flu or Covid, due to the "virus soup" that is making an impact this winter and filling up Catalonia's CAPs, or Primary Care Centres.

Faced with the danger of health centres being stretched beyond capacity, Trilla calls for "sanity" and a certain degree of self-assessment, so that if you are a healthy and middle-aged person or young and without risk factors and you have a cold, you don't need to see a doctor. On the contrary, if you are a person at risk or everything points to the fact that your cold is turning into something more severe, then yes. In particular, Trilla urges people to see their doctor if symptoms such as fever are persistent, if a person has respiratory difficulties, or walking, or feels short of breath without making any effort, since this suggests that lungs may be affected.

Delays in emergency rooms 

As for the high numbers of patients attending CAPs, Trilla explains that although the health authorities are reinforcing staff at this time of the year, their resource limits "are what they are" and maximum care capacity of the centres could be reached. "This means that urgent or unscheduled consultations may suffer delays," warns the doctor. Trilla adds that in the coming days there is likely to be a proliferation of elderly people entering hospitals, a situation that could also affect the work of the hospitals themselves: "Half of the people enter for Covid or 'flu and the other half for something else, but they also may have a virus or catch it", he explains.

Epidemiological normality

Nevertheless, the Barcelona epidemiologist sees a certain normalcy in the current situation regarding the 'flu: "Every winter there are always a few weeks a year when the CAPs are under great stress due to high numbers of patient visits due to viruses", points out Trilla , linking this with Christmas gatherings and interactions with family and friends, as well as work dinners. "They will be contagions from one or two weeks ago," the expert points out, although they start to show symptoms a little later after coming into contact with the virus. Trilla also adds that the Covid variants currently circulating have not become more severe.