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HEALTH

Spanish monkeypox outbreak linked to sauna

A sauna in Spain's capital has been forced to close over a suspected link to a monkeypox outbreak in the country, health authorities said on Friday.

Spanish monkeypox outbreak linked to sauna
Illustration photo of a sauna. Photo: Huum, Unsplash.

Several European countries have reported cases in recent days. British authorities have pointed out that their most recent cases have been detected in men who defined themselves as gay, bisexual or as having had sex with men, with suspicions that there may be community transmission of the pathogen in this group.

The Paraiso sauna, a gay-friendly establishment whose name means “paradise” in the heart of Madrid, said on Twitter it was shutting its doors.

“The Paraiso sauna will remain closed for the next few days, a precautionary measure in the face of the alert… over the emergence of so-called monkey pox infections in the Madrid region,” it said.

Enrique Ruiz Escudero, a health official for the Madrid region, told reporters the authorities had recorded 21 confirmed cases and 19 suspected cases.

“Most people who tested positive have a link to this source,” he said, referring to the sauna.

Official tallies often take time to be updated at national level in Spain.

The health ministry’s latest monkeypox count was of seven confirmed cases nationwide and 23 people who tested positive for a “non-human” virus but still awaited further results.

Other regions in the country, including Galicia, the Basque Country and Estremadura, have also reported suspected infections.

Monkeypox is not usually fatal but often manifests itself through fever, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion and a chickenpox-like rash on the hands and face.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions or droplets of bodily fluid from an infected person.

READ MORE: Eight suspected monkeypox cases detected in Spain

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BREXIT

Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

The Spanish government has confirmed that it will not extend its reciprocal healthcare agreements with Gibraltar, meaning that from July 1st 2022, it will come to an end.

Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

When the UK left the EU on December 31st 2020, both sides agreed that the UK’s EHIC European healthcare cards could still be used until their expiry dates.

This card provided British travellers with free state-provided medical care in the EU in case of emergencies.

Beyond their five year period of validity, EHIC cards are no longer valid and travellers have to apply for the new Global Heath Insurance Card (GHIC) instead. 

Spain made a separate agreement with Gibraltar under its Royal Brexit Decree in which unilateral arrangements would be maintained in the territory and extended until June 30th 2022.

During the meeting of the Spanish Council of Ministers on Tuesday, the Spanish Government decided not to extend the agreement further, meaning that residents of Gibraltar will no longer be able to benefit from it.

In a statement the government of Gibraltar said: “It would have been HMGoG’s preference for these arrangements, which deeply affect citizens on either side of the border on matters as essential as healthcare, to have been maintained. Indeed, HMGoG was prepared to continue with them”.

“However, because reciprocity is a key element to these arrangements which cannot work without coordination and provisions for reimbursement of costs etc., HMGoG is left with no option but to discontinue them also in so far as treatment in Gibraltar is concerned,” it continued. 

What does this mean?

Gibraltar residents insured under Gibraltar’s Group Practice Medical Scheme will, after 30th June 2022, no longer be able to access free emergency healthcare in Spain during a temporary stay in the country. 

Those who are residents in Spain who travel over to Gibraltar will not have access to free healthcare on The Rock either. 

As a consequence, if a resident of Gibraltar falls ill or has an accident while over the border in Spain or the same for a Spanish resident in Gibraltar, they will have to pay for healthcare.

The government of Gibraltar is encouraging its citizens from July 1st 2022 to have appropriate travel insurance with medical cover each time they visit Spain.

This means that even those who are hopping over the border for few hours such as for a shopping trip or going out for dinner will have to make sure that they have adequate health insurance. 

“Where medical attention is required the costs incurred may be considerable, so you should ensure you have adequate insurance cover or alternatively the means to pay,” the Gibraltar government said in their statement.

  

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