THE leader of the Coordination Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies Fernando Simon has become the centre of controversy.

The newspaper ABC photographed the 57-year-old enjoying a few hours of relaxation in the presence of his family on a Portuguese beach just days after advising Spanish citizens not to move between provinces amid a surge of COVID-19 outbreaks.

According to ABC, the doctor, spotted in a secluded beach area popular with surfers, was heard to say he didn’t expect to be recognised.

The images show Simon leaning against the stand of a surfboard rental company, without a mask.

The presence of Simon in Portugal coincides with a critical moment in Spain, when outbreaks are now being reported in almost all provinces and has triggered harsh criticism on social networks.

Many users stress that this is a ‘hypocritical’ attitude given that just a few days ago Simon himself said during a press conference that ‘unnecessary travel’ should be avoided.

Social media user Percival Manglano said:

“This works in the following manner:

“1. Fernando Simon, in view of the outbreaks, recommends wearing masks and avoiding unnecessary trips.

“2. He goes surfing in Portugal.

“3. He is caught on the beach without a mask.

“4. He thought nobody would recognise him.

This is the best summary of the Government’s management of dealing with COVID- 19”

Faced with a barrage of criticism, there have also been users who have come to the doctor’s defence as Antidoto writes:

“The same people who criticise Fernando Simon for going to the beach for a weekend after 5 months of being in charge of the pandemic, are the ones who kept quiet when Ana Botella went to the Spa the day after the tragedy at the Madrid Arena, right? #YoConfernandoSimon,”

The images come as Spain surpasses 200 fresh COVID-19 outbreaks.

After Aragon, Catalunya continues to be one of the most affected communities.

This has led the Catalan government to tighten up measures in Barcelona, banning meetings of more than 10 people and limiting the capacity of bars.

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