Masks: the cities that can stop using them – Health

The President of the Republic, Iván Duque, has announced the extension of the health emergency for another 60 days from May 1at the same time as he announced a de-escalation of non-pharmacological measures to control the expansion of covid-19 based on reported pandemic figures, which in recent weeks have shown the lowest counts in terms of cases, d hospitalizations and deaths.

(Also read: ‘The good situation of the pandemic is a ‘shisha calm’ that must be maintained’).

According to the President, these decisions are based – in addition to the above – on technical and scientific discussions with the corresponding advisory committees and on the recommendations of WHO and PAHO.

(Also: Covid-19: these are the municipalities with coverage greater than 70%).

Given the importance of these announcements, and that in essence, according to the experts, resolutely marks the transformation of the pandemic into an endemic and a clearer horizon that allows the greatest health contingency of this century to be left to the past, it is important to analyze them one by one with the hand of a few authorized voices.

To begin with, it must be said that according to the Minister of Health, Fernando Ruiz Gómez, the pandemic is not over and the most transmissible variants of Sars-Cov-2 (especially the latest omicron modifications) are circulating in the country, To which it should be added that vaccination coverage has developed, that hybrid immunity (vaccination and that left by infections) has increased, and that it has been demonstrated that complete vaccination, although it does not not protect against disease, prevent serious forms and death, which technically allows to include the president’s announcements.

The health emergency declaration is extended

The President clarified that The health emergency will continue until June 30 because although the pandemic figures are benevolent, it is important – as the Minister of Health said in an interview with EL TIEMPO – to carry out monitoring and specific adjustments to the preventive and health plan to avoid surprises who could put themselves against the wall to the health system at the general level or in one of the regions.

(We advise you to consult: Covid-19 in Colombia: two years after the first case).

It should be remembered that this measure allows rapid decision-making, including those necessary to advance the steps necessary to move from the pandemic to the endemic. In other words, since the pandemic is not over, the measure remains consistent for a little longer.

Disposal of face masks

The President announced that the requirement for face masks in enclosed venues will be lifted effective May 1, as long as the following conditions are met: that municipalities have exceeded 70% coverage in comprehensive vaccination programs and 40% of their population vaccinated with boosters (see map), in a follow-up that the Ministry of Health is doing for this purpose. It should be clarified that the measure is maintained in all places where health services, educational institutions and public transport are provided.

These decisions
are very important in the fight against covid-19, highlighting the results of the vaccination plan

According to the Health Portfolio report, in total There are 525 municipalities in Colombia that have 70% and more of their population with complete vaccination schedules against covid-19 and 78 where 40% have more than booster doses. In this direction, only five capitals in the country meet the ministry’s standards for comprehensive diets: Armenia (78.4% with complete diets and 41% with booster doses), Manizales (76.2% and 41% in boosters), San Andrés (78.1% and 41%), Tunja (84.4 % and 41% reinforcements) and Bogotá (76.9% and 40.5% reinforcements).

According to public health specialist Pedro León Cifuentes, this makes sense from a public health point of view because the required levels of vaccination guarantee the protection of the majority of the population, as has been demonstrated, but since the virus is still circulating, it is natural that in hospital spaces it forms a conglomeration of riskthe measure is maintained not only for workers but also for patients and companions.

(Also: Where is the pandemic going in the country? Experts answer).

For Cifuentes, the question of educational establishments is based on the fact that the proximity of people, the time spent in an enclosed space that does not guarantee ventilation, can increase the risks of contagion -as has been demonstrated on the basis of the evidence-, so it is necessary to maintain the use of face masks at least while the pandemic increases; the same thing happens in public transport, because the same three factors are added: crowds, proximity, limited space and lack of ventilation.

Raising the vaccination card requirement to frequent public places, entertainment and entertainment venues, restaurants and bars goes hand in hand with pandemic dynamics due to vaccination volumes currently exceeding 80% of first doses and approach 70% of the population with second doses, so added to the immunity obtained against infections, they allow a certain peace of mind in these spaces, as has already been demonstrated.

The government has decided that the mask will continue to be compulsory in public transport and other spaces such as classrooms in schools and universities.


Mauricio Moreno / WEATHER

for travelers

Health worker Elizabeth Beltrán insists that what is being raised here is demand from the official level. However, If a person, based on their experience and the lessons of the pandemic, individually considers that they should continue to wear the mask, there is no reason to prevent it and less to condition the withdrawal thereof to remain in said sites.

From a public health point of view, because the required levels of vaccination guarantee the protection of the majority of the population

Las personas que lleguen al país, bien sean colombianos, extranjeros residentes, turistas o viajeros de paso que permanezcan algunos días en el territory nacional, deben presentar su carné de vacunación completa (dos dosis o monodosis de Janssen) en todos los puestos de ingreso al Country. Otherwise, they must submit a PCR test with a delay not exceeding 72 hours from the collection or antigens with a delay not exceeding 48 hours.

(Keep reading: This is the risk of dying from covid-19 if not vaccinated, according to the Ministry of Health).

Esto, de acuerdo con Cifuentes, is founded in the global circulation of the virus and dado that in muchos countries the levels of vaccination and immunity no its lo sufficiently effective, is necessary to protect against these requirements to the inhabitants of the country independently of the lugar del that lleguen The travellers.

Repeal of the Prass

Given the evolution of the pandemic, the President also announced that the decree establishing the Prass strategy (screening, tracing and long-term selective isolation) has been repealed to make way for a preventive epidemic surveillance strategy and specific follow-up in harmony with the mitigation policy that the country has followed from the beginning.

This, according to Beltrán, does not mean that the tests are stopped or that the pandemic is stopped, but that the follow-up will have defined objectives and not a component of screening, diagnosis and isolation as is done in some countries like the China, which Although having the same variants circulating in the country, it is a state policy to subject its inhabitants to quarantine, only with a positive test regardless of their level of affectation.

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