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COVID-19

Spanish town uses cancelled fiesta funds to test all residents for Covid-19

A town in the province of Segovia has decided to use the funds it has left over with the cancellation of its patron saint festivities to pay for serological tests for every single resident.

Spanish town uses cancelled fiesta funds to test all residents for Covid-19
A testing station will be set up in the Segovian village. Photo: AFP

Navas de San Antonio has 328 registered residents, although in normal times it swells up at weekends, during the summer and when the town throws it annual party to honour San Antonio de Padua in mid-June.

But this year, the lockdown imposed across Spain to control the spread of coronavirus means that the festivities are cancelled.

The mayor of the town decided that rather than carry them over, the town could put the funds reserved for the fiesta to better use and test the entire population for covid-19.

“I’ve been mayor for 20 years and one thing I’ve learnt is that the most important thing is to prioritise well-being of residents,” explained Luis Miguel Pérez of the conservative Popular Party (PP).

Each test will cost the council €60 and will be carried out by a private health clinic Los Tilos in nearby provincial capital Segovia who will set up a testing station in the village over the weekend of June 13when the town would usually be celebrating its patron saint.


The town hall in Navas de San Antonio. Photo: Ayuntamiento

The initiative follows that of the Madrid dormitory town of Torrejon de Ardoz which last week began mass testing residents for the coronavirus against government guidelines.

Spain's government view — shared by many epidemiologists — is that mass testing of entire towns is indiscriminate and not the best use of resources.

There has also been concern in the media of the danger of stoking “health populism” — whereby local authorities may feel compelled to outdo their neighbours in testing, although the initiative has been welcomed by residents in Torrejon, which suffered an outbreak of the virus in the early days of the health crisis.

In Navas de San Antonio, however, there has only been one suspected case of the coronavirus, in a resident who self-isolated as soon as symptoms were detected and has since fully recovered without confirming that it was covid-19 or spreading it to anyone else.

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COVID-19 RULES

Catalonia to give automatic five-day sick leave to people with Covid symptoms

The Catalan Health Ministry has introduced a new way of asking for sick leave from work for those with Covid-19 symptoms. The leave will automatically be given for five days, without the need to present a positive test.

Catalonia to give automatic five-day sick leave to people with Covid symptoms

Catalan Health Service Director Gemma Craywickel, along with the Catalan Public Health Secretary Carmen Cabezas, announced the move during a press conference on Tuesday.

Workers with Covid symptoms can now ask for sick leave from their job through the Meva Salut website, app or via the appointment website here, without the need to present a positive antigen or PCR test. The new service has been available since Tuesday, July 5th.

All that is needed is to log on with a CIP number and password or digital certificate and click on ‘altres servis’ (other services), followed by ‘Programar visites d’atenció primària’, where you usually make an appointment. 

Those who apply will automatically be given sick leave for the next five days, which will be confirmed via text message or e-mail.

If symptoms persist longer than five days, authorities say you should contact your local health centre to ask for the leave to be extended.

The move was introduced in a bid to take the pressure off local health services who attended 105,024 patients in the last week, 16 percent more than during the previous week.

Around 9.07 percent of people who visited hospitals in the region on Monday July 4th -15,817 patients – had symptoms compatible with Covid-19.

In addition, within the last four weeks, Catalan health services have seen 85 percent more patients with acute respiratory illnesses, thought to be a result of Covid-19 infections.

“The measure aims to free up resources for people who really them,” explained Craywinckel.

“It’s a way of simplifying administrative procedures. We already know what the symptoms are, so there is no need for the patient to explain to us face-to-face or over the phone,” she continued.

The number of Covid-19 infections in Catalonia has risen by 15 percent in the last week, with 2,032 hospital admissions, the highest number since mid-February 2022.

There have also been 51 Covid-19 patients admitted to Catalan ICUs in the last week.

Catalan Public Health Secretary Carmen Cabezas called on people to respect the requirement to continue wearing face masks on public transport and said that vulnerable people should keep wearing masks in indoor public spaces too. 

READ MORE: What are the specific mask rules for public transport and travel in Spain?

This is not the first time the Catalan health authorities have introduced an automatic sick leave system for those with Covid-19.

A similar service was introduced earlier this year during the height of the sixth wave, with a seven-day leave period plus the need to present a positive Covid-19 test.

Andalusia also introduced a similar automatic sick leave system for those with Covid-19 and a positive test back in February 2022.

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