the reasons to continue wearing masks indoors

The mask will no longer be mandatory indoors on April 20, although it will continue to be required in health centers, residences and public transport. The measure has been taken following the recommendations of the technicians of the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities, who urged to wait for Easter to pass and advised to maintain exceptions in the spaces of greatest vulnerability. the mask is the most important tool against the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory virusesand the end of its compulsory use, after more than two years of the pandemic, will be received by many as a liberation, although others will choose to maintain it, either to protect themselves or to protect others.

The end of the mask indoors is justified by the good evolution of epidemiological data, especially in relation to hospitalizations and ICU admissions, which have been the most reliable thermometer of the pandemic so far. However, there is no lack of critical voices from the field of science, who consider that this measure, although necessary at some point, has been taken with a certain “precipitation”something that can affect the most vulnerable population.

After the announcement by Minister Carolina Darias specifying the date on which it will be possible to say goodbye to the mask indoors, the Spanish Society of Epidemiology (SEE) issued a statement asking for caution, while recalling that the pandemic “has not yet ended and the transmission of the virus persists”. Epidemiologists consider that this decision has been “premature”, and point out that the new COVID surveillance strategy has only been in force for fifteen days.

“The use of the mask indoors is a very iconic and highly visible measure, and its elimination also conveys the message that there is no longer a need for any measure,” highlights the Spanish Society of Epidemiology, which stresses that “the new strategy The surveillance system is based on the need to focus protection on vulnerable people and, for this to be effective, it is essential that some measures be maintained in the areas where these people reside, live and work.Part of its success lies in the fact that those who are not vulnerable protect those who are with their behavior and compliance with these minimum measures,” he adds.

In this way, Matilde Canellesan immunologist at the CSIC, agrees that “in the situation we are in, in which we do not know how protected people over 65 are, we are going too fast in Spainbecause we have stopped isolating the asymptomatic and the mildly symptomatic, we are not giving the fourth dose and we are also going to remove the mask indoors”. This researcher adds that “cases are not being counted anymore, but hospitalizations are counted, and when hospitalizations increase we are too late to take action.

For all these reasons, he asks that “everyone who is going to be in contact with people over 65 years of age and with immunosuppression, and especially if they are without a mask, they should put it on”, and insists that “with all the time That’s why they’ve been given the third dose, we don’t know how protected they are”. “The thing to keep in mind is these kinds of people”assures, and demands that it be done “more out of responsibility towards others than towards oneself”.

Protection for immunosuppressed patients

Among the most vulnerable population are cancer patients, since cancer treatments, or the disease itself, can usually suppress or weaken the immune system. as you remember Begona Barraganpresident of the Spanish Group of Cancer Patients, “the immunosuppressed patient is not only safe wearing the mask, but also that everyone else wears it”, and for this reason she recognizes that some of these people, given the change of scenery that will take place On April 20, “They are afraid, which is something very rational and very logical”. “If the health authorities say that it is safe to be indoors without a mask, immunosuppressed cancer patients will have to do the same thing that we have always done, which is continue to maintain precautions due to our disease,” he continues.

Faced with this new situation, Barragán urges “apply common sense”. “Immunocompromised patients will have to follow the recommendations of their doctors, but it is very likely that as a precaution, depending on the environments in which they move, they try to avoid contagion, as has always happened. It is no longer just COVID, because a person immunocompromised person can be infected with many things,” she told

“Common sense and following the recommendations of our oncologists or hematologists is what is going to tell us to what extent we can lead a life similar to that of the rest of the world or we have to take more precautions due to our disease,” concludes the president of the Spanish Group of Cancer Patients.

Fears beyond health

Although there are other people who, without being immunosuppressed, and beyond that logical precaution against contagion, may also experience fear of removing the mask indoors. For them, the psychologist Silvia Alava recommends “recognizing the emotion of fear, and understanding that it is normal to feel it, because for two years the message we have received is that you have to have the mask onso it can take us a while to mentally change that message.”

“Maybe you have to go little by little, and I’m going to take it off first when I’m in a place where there are fewer people, or with the window open… Small factors that can give us security and then increase the number of times more that we are without the mask on,” he continues. “We have to give ourselves time to adapt to the new situation and to validate the emotions that this new situation will generate in us,” Álava recommended on Canal 24 Horas.

End of the mask indoors: “A significant part of the population is going to feel fear”

Among these people who, even being able to remove the mask indoors, could choose to continue wearing it, are the youngest, although in this case the reasons would be, above all, aesthetic, and would obey a “defense mechanism”. It is what has been baptized as ’empty face syndrome’. “We are seeing many boys and girls who, thanks to the mask, have seen that they do not have to face the rest seeing their faces, and complexes and insecurities have increased. In that case, perhaps it is necessary to ask for help, because it is important that we normalize something such as presenting ourselves to others with our faces uncovered, showing ourselves as we really are”, Álava expresses.

Faced with these cases of children and adolescents, the psychologist suggests “stopping and talking to them, without forcing the situation.” “If we don’t do it that way, they’re going to feel like an imposition and it’s going to be even worse, because they’re going to feel misunderstood. We’re going to talk about the emotions that are behind it and we’re going to validate them, in order to find a solution. Emotions like insecurity, fear, shame…”, he advises.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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