People walking in a Madrid street. / PHOTO / VIDEO: EP

Changes to Spain's Covid isolation rules come into force next week

The Public Health Committee approved its Strategy for Monitoring and Control on Tuesday and will treat the coronavirus in a similar way to flu

ÁLVARO SOTO Madrid

From next week, Spain will be taking steps to deal with Covid-19 in much the same way as it does with flu. On Tuesday the Public Health Committee approved its ‘Strategy for Monitoring and Control of Covid-19’, so from 28 March people with no symptoms or only mild ones will no longer have to isolate,

Only people who are classified as vulnerable and test positive will need to isolate, for a period of seven days, although the isolation rule will still be maintained in residential homes for the elderly and people in hospital, whether or not they have symptoms. However, there will also be a change in those circumstances: isolation will be for five days and will end after 24 hours symptom-free. Medical staff will also still have to isolate, but only until they test negative for the virus.

There will also be a change to the rules for testing from next week. From Monday, the focus will be on people considered vulnerable (over-60s, immuno-compromised and pregnant women), people in health care and social care environments and serious cases.

Apart from these, it will be doctors who decide whether a patient with minor symptoms should take a Covid test, although lateral flow tests will still be available in chemists for those who want them.

The health authorities will no longer try to trace cases or count them, so there will be no more updates on overall Covid figures as there have been until now. Instead, the new strategy is to look for cases among the vulnerable population, as they are the people most likely to suffer complications from the virus.

The Public Health Committee says this change is possible because of the high levels of immunity among the Spanish population. The new strategy was approved on a day when the accumulated incidence of Covid-19 fell again by nine points, to 436 cases per 100,000 people over 14 days. The health authorities have also reported 54,147 new infections and 350 deaths in the past four days.