Health fails to seduce communities with its ‘Covid traffic light’




When on December 27, Araceli Hidalgo, 96, became the first Spanish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, the beginning of the end of the pandemic began. Or at least life as it was until then. Now, almost eleven months later, 90.6% of Spaniards older than 12 years – for whom it is authorized at the moment – have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the cumulative incidence at 14 days, which at that time stood In 255 cases per one hundred thousand inhabitants, it is now 88, and the ICUs that at the end of 2020 supported an occupation by patients with Covid of 21.05%, now report a better situation, with patient beds Critics employed at 4.68%.

With these data on the table, the Alert Report on Monday proposed to the Public Health Commission an update of the document on Coordinated Response Actions for the control of Covid-19 transmission, popularly known as the ‘Covid traffic light’. This serves for the autonomous communities to make decisions about the control of the pandemic based on homogeneous and unified parameters throughout the Spanish territory. The proposed draft, which will continue to be studied by community teams after not reach an agreement this Tuesday, establishes new thresholds to assess the incidence of the disease, as well as a relaxation of the recommended non-pharmacological measures, especially for territories that are at alert levels 1 and 2 (out of 4).

From the outset, the regional presidents were divided before this new modification of criteria. The Minister of Health of the Community of Madrid, Enrique Ruiz Escudero placeholder imageHe stressed that this modification “does not make any sense”. As he argued, “this document has never had a vision of the reality of where the pulse of this pandemic is measured, which, in addition to infections, is above all with the care response and above all with an extra factor that is vaccination », Stressed the counselor.

On the other hand, the president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez FeijóoYes, they were in favor of modifying the traffic light so that it better reflects the relationship between the level of infections and hospital admissions after the arrival of immunization. “The vaccine has decreased income and therefore it seems to me in principle that the incidence of Covid must be increased because it does not produce the same income as without it,” he said in statements to the media on Tuesday in Brussels.

The experts, for their part, have also been divided over the possible change. “It is clear that the situation is not the same as a year ago, the type of cases and their severity have changed. To continue considering only the cumulative incidence and giving greater importance to this indicator compared to others, is no longer enough “, he says. Oscar Zurriaga, vice president of the Spanish Epidemiology Society. However, for Joan Carles March, professor at the Andalusian School of Public Health, this new traffic light «does not contribute anything», and can generate «an inappropriate situation in the vision that citizens have of the existing levels».

On the upward trend in the number of positives observed in recent days, Zurriaga states that, despite the fact that “the vaccine has proven to be effective in controlling the pandemic”, this does not mean “that hospitals are not going to be congested”, since the virus has shown in recent months that it “is unpredictable.” “We can rush if the incidence continues to grow in Europe and also as we are seeing in Spain,” adds March, who asks “to continue taking measures based on the data” and to focus on the four million Spaniards who still remain unvaccinated .

“It is time to be very cautious and limit our social relationships to those groups of friends who we know apply preventive measures just like us,” he adds Juan Jesus Gestal Otero, Emeritus Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Santiago de Compostela. In the opinion of this expert, the important thing is “to promote the vaccination of those who have not yet done so.”

New changes

One of the novelties established in the document is that, from now on, the low risk will now be between 50 and 100 cases of accumulated incidence in the last 14 days, when until now this was situated in 50. Below this parameter, the circulation will be understood as “controlled”, previously called “new normal”. The average risk would be set between 100 and 300 cases; the high between 300 and 500 and the very high will be above 500.

International Council National Health System ABC At lower alert levels, the new traffic light suggests to communities

remove capacity restriction at level 1 if indoors the correct use of the mask can be ensured. In level 2, the capacity of 75% will be maintained, and in 3 and 4 of 50%. Depending on the situation, the authorities of each region may even assess the closure of establishments or premises.With respect to

hospital pressure
, the draft maintains the occupancy indicators for each level, but incorporates two other indicators, which are the rate of new hospitalization due to Covid and the rate of new admissions due to the virus in ICU. It is also established that in order to lower alert level 1 to the level of controlled circulation it is necessary that each and every one of the parameters be below the minimum value.



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