Almost a month has passed since the mandatory use of the mask indoors was eliminated and it seems that more and more people of different ages they have stopped using them and wear them only on public transport, in hospitals, in health centers and in nursing homes.
However, although its use is currently voluntary, the Ministry of Health continues to recommend it for groups with a higher risk of severe Covid, such as those over 60 years of age, especially when they are in contexts in which outbreaks can occur – crowds, interiors, etc.–.
Some older ones wear it and others don’t.
Now, this advice from the health authority seems to be not being followed by part of the population older, as recognized by readers of 65YMORE in several dozen letters to the editor.
And this relaxation of the measures by the older population has consequences: specifically, according to what they say, a large number of them they would be infecting during group trips organized by Imserso.
The reason: after the elimination of the mandatory mask, not all travelers would have maintained its use or respected it the safety distance.
And all this, added to the crowds and the socialization indoors, would have contributed to the fact that many who did wear it more regularly ended up infected, after more than two years keeping it to the letter. protection measures.
These are some of the excerpts from the dozens of stories that have reached the ‘mailbox’ of 65AND MORE:
“At first, most people met the requirements, except for some clueless people who were kindly warned by the dining room staff to wear a mask when they got up to serve themselves at the buffet. As of April 20, the total mess. I discussed it with the person in charge of entry control and he replied that the obligation had been removed. On Sunday, April 24, I began to have symptoms with chills and a very irritated throat with pain and burning.”
“We have been traveling for a week in Roquetas de Mar from April 29 to May 6. There were a lot of people from one place to another, some with masks and others without them, the windows closed and, in the activities, more than the same. In conclusion, we arrived home on May 6 with persistent cough And now we are having a very bad time with fever, cough, nausea, fear for my partner who has heart disease… Let’s hope everything happens soon.”
“We had booked from April 25 to May 2, we went by plane from León to Barcelona. About 50 of us were going from Imserso, all to the same hotel, full of people: pensioners from various provinces, many foreigners, young people, everything by the bucketload We did four excursions of several hours by bus and many went up without a mask. So after two years with all the precautions, we have become infected. Of 8 that I know, 5 came back with Covid.”
“After great care during the pandemic, we signed up for an Imserso trip in Roquetas de Mar. People seemed not to care about contagion and the Government had removed the obligation to wear a mask, leaving it to the good judgment of the staff. The result: walks through the dining room picking up the food and coughing on the food, people who rode the elevators to the top and without protection, recriminations if you objected to them going up with you, etc. In the end, and as expected, my wife and I. All the effort we were making for 2 years went overboard.”
“My wife and I have been on a 9-day shift, in a hotel in Palma de Mallorca at the end of April. There was a complete lack of control in a dining room full of people without masks and without ventilation, in addition to the same at night at the disco, dancing without space. It was common to see older people sneezing or coughing in the final days. Upon return, we tested positive for a PCR.”
“My husband and I were in La Manga del Mar Menor. Everyone went there as they wanted, some with a mask, others not. The place was spacious, but ventilated with air conditioning. Then, people went up and down in the elevator, some with masks, others not, some coughing and others with hoarseness. On the third day of being there, I already started with a cold and, when I got home in Asturias, my husband and I were positive, and with a monumental throat infection.”
This newspaper has contacted several experts, doctors and immunologists, to find out their opinion on these cases and so that they can give certain recommendations to the elderly, especially those who have not yet been infected, about what should they do in massive activities of this type.
“It is clear that when the vulnerable face crowds, they are more likely to be infected. They are the ones who should take action. If people do not wear the mask, they should if the distance is not ideal. It is your protection”, indicates the Head of the Immunology Service of the CU Virgen de Arrixaca Hospital, Manuel Wall (@manuelmuro5).
And it is that, he argues, the elderly who have not yet been infected do not know whether or not they have responded to the vaccines, so they could be at some risk. “As the administrations do not evaluate it -by determining antibodies and/or cellular response-, we do not know the true level of protection. But, as I comment, they are the main governors of its contagion. If they wear the mask when they should, the chances will be less. In addition, perhaps in people over 80 years of age, an additional dose should be given, since the level of antibodies – 5-6 months after their last dose – will have dropped. Of course, what they should know is that even if they get infected, and unless they have accompanying pathologies, they are not going to get seriously ill, “he assures.
The professor of parasitology at the University of Valencia agrees with Muro, Raphael Toledo (@alfwarrior), who also asks not to be given so much importance to infections Yes they do not end in serious pictures.
“I think we have to take weight off infections and focus primarily on the clinical consequences. On such a trip, getting infected is easy and, to avoid it in a significant percentage, the measures would be such as to make it unfeasible. In any case, it is much easier for this to happen on the go than in the rooms, regardless of the cleanliness conditions. You have to get used to the current situation, in which there are cases. Weight should be given to the clinical consequences they may have,” opines.
“Recommendations to the elderly are not being emphasized”
On the other hand, some experts do understand that all older people should maintain security measures on trips of this type, to protect each other and avoid overcrowding.
“Although we only have data on incidence in those over 60, transmission at the moment is very high in all age groups. Indirect indicators – wastewater, sale of antigen tests – indicate this and, truthfully, just looking to our environment, we already see it. The extraordinary mobility that we have ‘recovered’ is behind this growth in the incidence –parties, bridges, festivals, trips…–. On the other hand, hospitalizations are slightly up – partly ‘due to’ Covid, partly ‘with’ – and ICUs seem to be going down. That is, we are not having a significant rise in serious cases”, contextualizes the epidemiologist and researcher at the Foundation for the Promotion of Health and Biomedical Research of the Valencian Community (@GVAfisabio), Salvador Peiro.
“However, after the withdrawal of measures there were a series of recommendations – especially aimed at older and vulnerable people – in which no emphasis is being placed. And the truth is that, although practically everyone has antibodies –from the vaccine–, the numbers of older people who have had Covid –unlike the younger ones– are small. It is a positive fact in a certain sense – the rest of society has been able to protect them quite well and they themselves – but it gives more options to infections. The vast majority will be mild – the cellular immunity provided by vaccination will protect them – but, if there are many cases, some will end up in hospital. In short: the situation is quite good at the moment, but it is necessary to apply those recommendations that nobody wants to hear about – a mask in symptomatic, positive, contacts; reduce interactions with elders and vulnerable, etc. – and it was probably not the time to have large crowds of older people in closed spaces,” he says.
“It’s too soon for the elders to let their guard down”
“I think that those over 60 should be wearing a mask and being careful not to take it off in closed spaces since: the third dose was given a long time ago and it is known that it is losing effect and we do not know how well they form immunological memory. An image of false security has been created that has encouraged them to lower their guard when, in my opinion, it is too early to do so. We will see how the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths in this group evolve in the next month and I hope they come out well”, values the CSIC immunologist, Matilde Canelles (@CanellesMatilde).
On the other hand, for the director of the Center for Encephalopathies and Emerging Communicable Diseases, Juan Jose Badiola “all these stories, in my opinion, are very revealing and a clear reflection of a great collective irresponsibility.
Even so, according to the epidemiologist and spokesperson for the Madrid Public Health Association (@amasap), Fernando Garcia, “It is unlikely that the infections that have occurred on these Imserso trips have contributed much to the rebound that we see. It is to be expected that they have started in younger people and later they have been transmitted to the elders”.
“The relaxation of the measures will undoubtedly have influenced the infections. There is a lot of social interaction and events are organized with groups of people indoors, probably poorly ventilated. It would be important for the public health authorities to investigate the presence of outbreaks in these trips and it would be prudent to take extreme precautions: use of masks in poorly ventilated interiors – including buffet dining rooms, when you go to get food –, safety distance, not going with symptoms compatible with Covid-19, diagnostic tests for active infection in suspected cases… But I don’t think they should be suspended again until we have stronger evidence that they are not safe enough. Air travel usually is and by bus all travelers and the driver should wear a mask. On the other hand, in Menorca, Mallorca and Benidorm, many of the activities take place outdoors. In short, I would ask the authorities to strengthen the measures, more or less as they were before, “he proposes.
“I am not at all surprised by what is happening with this group, where protection has decreased due to declining immunity, after six months since the puncture and against new variants capable of producing reinfection; and with close interactions in poorly ventilated indoors without a mask. It is the chronicle of a disaster foretold that could have been avoided. Four recommendations must be made to this population:
- If you haven’t taken the third dose yet – and there are 18 million Spaniards who haven’t – take it now.
- Wear a mask indoors, on public transport and outdoors when you cannot maintain physical distance and there are crowds.
- If you are over 80 years old and you already have three doses, insist to your regional health service that you want them to give you a fourth.
- If you test positive, even if you are asymptomatic, isolate yourself for a week so as not to infect others”, finally recommends the former director of the World Health Organization, Daniel Lopez Acuna (@lopezacunad).