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COVID-19

Spanish PM tests positive for Covid

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Spanish PM tests positive for Covid
Pedro Sánchez addressing the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City on September 22, 2022. Photo: Yuki IWAMURA/AFP

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Sunday that he had tested positive for Covid and temporarily suspended all engagements just two days after returning from the UN General Assembly meeting.

“This morning, I tested positive for Covid-19,” Sánchez tweeted, adding he would not be attending a meeting of the Catalan region’s Socialists in Barcelona.

Sánchez, who returned from New York on Friday, said he would continue working but take the utmost precautions. It is unclear if the Prime Minister is suffering symptoms, or feeling unwell.

On Friday, he is due to host a meeting in the southeastern city of Alicante of the MED7 group of southern European countries, and is expected to be on the road doing public events much more in the coming year as part of a ramp up to the general election sometime in late-2023.

The tour, reportedly including 30 events organised to increase Sánchez’s contact with Spaniards, is intended to allow him to better explain the measures taken by the government in response to the cost of living crisis, increase his public interaction, and leave behind the more traditional rally format.

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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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