OBLIGATORY use of protective face masks in Spain has been delayed until there is enough for everyone.
The government has said in recent days that it is likely that members of the public in Spain will have to wear such masks when they are out of their homes once confinement measures are relaxed.
This measure however needs to be re-studied, as pointed out by Spain’s Minister of Health, Salvador Illa.
“Measures will not be put in place that cannot be met,” he said.
Given the widespread shortage of the protective face masks, there are not enough for the entire population in Spain.
“Therefore, it will be necessary to wait a few weeks for the use of masks to become widespread.” He made the comments during a press conference in which he explained that the government is already working on the next phase of moderating the lockdown confinements.
The transition phase, which will allow greater freedom of movement, and only once it has been verified that the epidemic seems under control, will include maintaining hygiene measures as well as the generalised use of masks for those people permitted to leave their confinement.
However, most residents in Spain have been unable to purchase face masks due to the high demand, while priority has been given to health professionals and security forces.
The Spanish Ministry of Health has acquired 550 million units from China, expected to arrive in the next six weeks.
“When this material is ready, it will be time to deliver them to the citizens.” Illa said.
Some regions of Italy, such as Tuscany and Lombardy, are forcing their citizens to wear them.
The World Health Organization (WHO), for its part, insists that it is not necessary except for the sick and for those who care for patients in their homes.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We know they can help protect health workers, but they are in short supply globally. We are concerned that the massive use of masks by the general population may exacerbate shortages for those who need them most.
“Masks alone cannot stop the pandemic. Countries must continue to find cases, test, isolate and treat each case and track every contact.”