Read in Catalan

Face masks are once again mandatory in health centres in Catalonia due to the increase in respiratory infections over recent weeks. The measure affects primary care centres (CAPs), as well as hospitals and socio-health centres. The Catalan health department has responded in this way to the calls from family doctors who have been warning for days about the difficult situation being experienced in health centres, with the forecast that contagion will continue to increase in the second and third weeks of January.

In fact, this Friday the Valencian Community has also announced the return of mandatory face mask wearing in its health centres.

Translation: "In view of the high numbers of people seeking health attention in the emergency services, we remind you that the options available are the CAP and the CUAP for minor emergencies; hospitals for the most serious cases. If you have any doubts, please call the 061 Salut Respon phone number" - @semgencat
[Note: A CUAP is a 'Primary Care Emergency Centre', which may be located at the same location as the normal CAP centre, or may be separate. Also note that if you call the 061 Health line you can ask for an English-speaking operator]


The Catalan health minister, Manel Balcells, published an X post on the subject: "Due to the increase in respiratory viruses, face masks are now mandatory in health centres. I appreciate the work of the professionals at these times of cases of 'flu virus and respiratory conditions". For her part, the Catalan public health secretary, Carmen Cabezas, specified that "everyone must wear a mask in health centres, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not".

The Catalan health service has told the ACN news agency that, next Monday when a special full meeting of Spain's Interterritorial Health System Council takes place, the Catalan public health secretary Carmen Cabezas will ask for the Spain state to once again allow medical sick-leave certificates and documents to be automated online, as doctors have already requested to make their work load more manageable. This is an option that functioned previously during the Covid pandemic within the framework of Spain's state of alarm, but has to be initially approved at Spanish government level.

Urgent meeting called over respiratory virus outbreak 

The special electronic meeting of the Interterritorial Health System Council, to be held on Monday, January 8th, was announced in a video by Spanish health minister Mónica García, who said it aimed to "evaluate, unify criteria and adopt coordinated actions" among Spain's autonomous communities - which hold competence for many health areas - in the face of the peaking respiratory virus activity. García explained that "from now on and jointly" her ministry intends to design action plans for the winter "to help communities minimize these situations and not normalize system breakdowns in the future" - referring to situations where the health service can't keep up with patient demand.

Mónica García stated that the latest weekly statistics from the Carlos III Health Institute showed the incidence of respiratory virus infections had reached a level of 1,000 cases per 100,000 people across Spain, but the level of hospitalization, although increasing, is still below 30 cases per 100,000 people. The health minister appealed to the common sense and "resilient spirit" shown by Spaniards during the Covid pandemic. "It is important that people always carry a mask with them at present", she said, ready to put it on if crowded situations arise in interior spaces and, especially, in health centres and senior citizen residential centres.