Salvador Illa: "It is necessary that our country has the necessary instruments to be able to continue keeping the virus under control"

The Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, has defended the approval in plenary session of the Congress of Deputies of the validation of the Royal Decree-Law 21/2020, of June 9, on urgent measures of prevention, containment and coordination to deal with the health crisis caused by COVID-19, "necessary," he explained, "so that our country has the necessary instruments to continue keeping the virus under control."

"This Royal Decree has – Illa reminded us – fundamentally two objectives: to equip ourselves with those necessary preventive measures against COVID-19 in this phase of new normality and to establish legal and operational instruments that allow us to continue giving a common and coordinated response on the part of of the health authorities against the virus. "

The Minister of Health has indicated that "we have been able to protect the health of our citizens and the capacities of our health system in this first challenge, but we know that the danger is still there and we must adopt all the necessary precautions and measures, until we can have an effective treatment or a safe vaccine. " For this reason, "it was unavoidable to have the prevention, containment and coordination measures ready, which should allow us to continue controlling the pandemic, until the end of the health crisis is officially declared," said Illa.

With this objective, this Royal Decree-Law establishes a general duty of caution and protection, to strengthen preventive behaviors in the population as a whole and includes a series of urgent measures of prevention, containment and coordination, aimed at guaranteeing the right to life and health protection.

Main measures

This standard includes the basic measures of prevention and hygiene: the maintenance of the interpersonal distance of at least 1.5 meters, the mandatory use of a mask on public roads and closed spaces for public use or open to the public when the safety distance, as well as in transport and reinforced hygiene in public and private spaces.

Furthermore, it contemplates the adoption of specific prevention and hygiene measures in work environments, such as the organization of positions or the organization of shifts to avoid crowds. And the same in the case of social service centers, in commercial establishments, in hotels and tourist accommodation or in hotel and restaurant activities.

Regarding residential centers for the elderly or disabled, the Royal Decree indicates that their coordination with the health system of each autonomous community must be guaranteed. And it also establishes that they must have contingency plans for the early identification of possible cases among residents, workers and their contacts.

In the sports field, the competence of the Higher Sports Council to apply preventive measures in certain professional competitions, after hearing the organizer, the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities. And, with respect to public transport of state competence, subject to public contracts or public service obligations, both by road, rail or sea, the volume of occupancy established must be respected to avoid the risk of contagion.

In the transport services with assigned seat, the obligation to collect the contact information of the passengers is established, which must be available for a minimum of four weeks after the trip, in order to be able to trace the contacts.

Regarding the measures regarding medicines and health products, the actions to guarantee the supply of the medicines considered essential in the management of COVID-19 are maintained. And the Minister of Health is also empowered to order that essential medicines be manufactured as a priority, if necessary.

At the same time, in a conjunctural way, measures are maintained to bring the medication closer to the patient in the field of hospital pharmacy, for those whose clinical situation requires it. And, measures are also incorporated to guarantee the manufacture and provision of surgical masks and gowns, as well as hydroalcoholic solutions and gels, at an adequate rate to meet existing demand.

Referral of information to the Ministry

Regarding early detection and epidemiological surveillance, the obligations of collecting, treating and sending information to the Ministry of Health are maintained, in order to have the necessary data to assess the situation, direct the control actions of COVID-19 and to be able to adopt the corresponding measures.

The health services of the autonomous communities must also guarantee the PCRs to all suspected cases as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms to ensure early detection. And all this information must be transmitted to the Ministry of Health in a timely manner.

Likewise, measures are established to guarantee the capacities of the health system; the obligation of the autonomous communities to have sufficient health professionals and contingency plans is established. All this information on healthcare capacity must also be sent to the Ministry of Health.

To materialize all these issues, the Royal Decree-Law modifies several regulations. The Minister of Health has highlighted two specifically. On the one hand, the Cohesion and quality law of the National Health System, 2003, with the aim of reinforcing public health coordination and introducing this duty of information from the autonomous communities to the Ministry of Health in emergency situations for public health. And the consolidated text of the Law on guarantees and rational use of medicines and health products, in order to entrust the Interministerial Commission on Drug Prices with the adoption of the procedure to be followed for setting prices.

The validity of this Royal Decree-Law will remain until the Government motivatedly declares the end of the health crisis, after listening to the autonomous communities in the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System and after a report from the Coordination Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES).

Joint work

The minister recalled that the elaboration of this RD has been possible thanks to the work carried out by all the ministries involved and the active participation of the health authorities of the autonomous communities: "The text was treated within the framework of the Inter-territorial Council of the National System of Salud and we sent it previously so that each autonomous community could send their contributions. Later, it was also the subject of debate at the Conference of Presidents. "

For this, he once again thanked them for their collaboration, work and loyalty to all the autonomous communities.

Support and thanks

The minister has especially remembered, in his speech in the plenary session of Congress, all the people who have died and has transferred support and affection to their relatives and loved ones. In addition, he wanted to convey a message of encouragement to people affected by the disease.

Likewise, it has reiterated its gratitude and recognition to the health professionals, workers of the essential services and to the men and women who make up the bodies and security forces and the Armed Forces. "And, of course, I want to express the gratitude of the entire government to all of our citizens, who, in general, have confined themselves and have complied with the measures that we have approved throughout all these weeks."

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