Catalonia will call for a rapid antigen test (TAR) to all travelers from China, even if they have the full vaccination schedule. The Ministry of Health announced this Friday that it will request a negative covid test or full vaccination to those who, arriving from the Asian country, set foot in Spanish territory. After the lifting a few weeks ago of the ‘covid zero’ policy, China is once again experiencing millions of daily infections that are overflowing the hospitals and are reminiscent of what happened almost three years ago.
The Conselleria de Salut, however, it claims to perform this diagnostic test at all passengers, even if they are vaccinated with all the doses, as the vaccines used by China (Sinopharm and Sinovac) do not contain protection against the omicron variant (the predominant worldwide) and, according to some epidemiologists, are not as effective as those used in the European Union or the United States. In any case, it is a measure that depends on the State and not on the autonomous regions.
“The ministry is just finishing the outline of the foreign health protocol. In principle, [el TAR] will be made to all [los viajeros procedentes de China] who are not fully vaccinated. We ask all travelers to be vaccinated because the vaccines they use there are different and they are not adapted to Omicron.” said in a press conference this afternoon the ‘conseller’ de Salut, Manel Bacells. “We believe that the most prudent thing to do is to make the TAR to all travelers,” he added.
As of January 9 will begin to operate the flights between China and Spain. Only two airports have direct flights to the Asian giant: Barcelona and Madrid. Until then no traveler from China is expected in Spain. The protocol announced by Health for then consists in making a TAR to travelers coming from China who cannot prove the complete vaccination schedule.
“If they test positive, they will undergo a PCR and then a sequencing to know what type of variant it is.” said the ‘conseller’. Catalonia (probably the Hospital de Bellvitge) will perform the sequencing of those PCRs that are done in Barcelona. “We have to make sure that it is not a new variant. This follow-up will be done by us from our epidemiological surveillance system.” he added.
In addition, for those travelers coming from China who test positive for covid, Salut les “recommend” isolation. “We will only ask for it to be compelled if there is a dangerous variant. Sin are variants of omicron we are. absolutely protected. Although we recommend isolation to prevent the spread of the virus,” said the ‘conseller’.
“Tranquility and prudence”
Balcells also appeared today to send a message of “tranquility”. “To date, none of the samples taken from travelers coming from China have determined any variant other than omicron, which is the one we have,” he emphasized. “This gives us some peace of mind.” Even so, he has called for be “very vigilant.” and to follow up in case any new ones appear.
The high immunity rate and in general throughout Spain, and the fact that no variant has so far appeared that could jeopardize what has been achieved so far, gives a certain margin to health authorities throughout the country. Thus, Salut has not announced this Friday any extra measures to protect the population. For example, there will be, at least for the time being, no restrictions on nursing homes. The ‘conseller’ has limited himself to asking for more TAR for travelers coming from China and to emphasize vaccination, the fourth dose of covid-19 (in Catalonia only 43% of the population has it) especially in those over 60 years of age or in people at risk.