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COVID-19

Spain’s King Felipe tests positive for Covid-19

Spain's King Felipe VI has tested positive for Covid-19 but is experiencing only mild symptoms, the Royal House said Wednesday.

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Spain's King Felipe VI has tested positive for Covid-19 and is experiencing only mild symptoms, the Royal House said on February 9, 2022. Queen Letizia and the couple's younger daughter Sofia are not showing symptoms. (Photo by Mariscal / POOL / AFP)

The 54-year-old monarch tested positive on Wednesday morning “after experiencing mild symptoms the night before”, it said in a statement.

“His Majesty’s general state of health is good and he will keep up his institutional activities from his residence,” it said, adding he will quarantine for seven days.

The king had been due to meet with Zeljko Komsic, the Croatian member of the Bosnian presidency, in Madrid later on Wednesday.

King Felipe received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in May 2021. Contacted by AFP, the royal palace did not say if he has had other doses since.

Queen Letizia and the couple’s younger daughter Sofia are not showing symptoms and will continue their activities normally.

Their elder daughter, Leonor, attends a boarding school in Wales.

Recent reports in the Spanish press have said that former King Juan Carlos, father of Felipe, recently contracted Covid while in exile in the United Arab Emirates and had to be taken to hospital in the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi’s helicopter.

Spain will on Thursday scrap a mandate to wear face masks outdoors as Covid-19 infection rates drop and hospitals report lower admissions.

The measure reverses a step taken last December amid an surge of infections fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Masks remain mandatory in indoor public spaces, including public transportation.

So far, Spain has registered some 10.4 million cases of the virus, and 95,000 deaths.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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