The government eliminates the requirement to wear masks on a compulsory basis in the country’s schools

Secretary of Health, Carlos Melladoannounced this Tuesday a new relaxation of the guidelines against COVID-19 that now establish that the use of masks will no longer be mandatory in schools and educational institutions, in collective transport, pharmacies and in long-term care homes.

Instead, the compulsory use of the mask is maintained in health facilities such as emergency rooms, hospitals, doctor’s offices and clinical laboratories. In the case of pharmacies, its use will only be required in the prescription area, it was reported in a press release.

“Restrictions and mandates are not forever, they came into force at the right time and two years after the pandemic, citizens have been able to learn how to take care of this fatal virus. I am confident that we can continue to make progress, while continuing with prevention and protection measures to guarantee control of the disease,” Mellado said.

The governor Pedro Pierluisi had anticipated this afternoon Mellado’s announcement. The new guidelines for the management of COVID-19 are contained in administrative order 2022-548. It includes changes to the isolation period and monitoring of close contacts.

The strategy of COVID-19 detection tests in K-12 educational institutions will continue as it allows to identify asymptomatic cases and prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools. Testing is promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a prevention strategy to protect the entire school community, the secretary said.

“The guides are dynamic and evolve according to the historical moment in which we find ourselves. Right now they have been updated, providing some flexibility, but it is the responsibility of each of the components of the school community to follow the recommendations to maintain safe environments for the entire educational environment,” Mellado said.

The new administrative order makes it clear that the Department of Health does not promote requiring a negative COVID-19 test result to allow visitors to enter long-term care homes for the elderly or community homes that serve the population of people with disabilities.

According to the CDC’s new levels of community transmission of COVID-19, which evaluate indicators of impact on the hospital system, Puerto Rico is located at a moderate level and the tendency to drop to a low level began to be reflected in several municipalities of the Island. In the pediatric case, it is currently 3 percent occupancy, while the occupancy of adult beds does not exceed 4%.

Mellado emphasized that “in Puerto Rico we have been successful in managing the pandemic thanks to the measures implemented in the historical moment in which we live.”

According to data compiled by Health, in recent weeks, COVID-19 community levels have begun to decline in several municipalities. Currently, 73 municipalities are at a moderate level and five are at a low level. Likewise, the percentage of positivity has been decreasing, being estimated at 20.5%.

He clarified, however, that the relaxation of measures against COVID-19 “does not mean that we lower our guard.”

“On the contrary, it means that we must continue to implement the combination of prevention and management measures for COVID-19, learning to live with the disease and continue with the shared effort to reduce infections,” said the head of the agency. .

Mellado referred to the continuity of early detection resources with the testing strategy, adequate isolation periods to stop the chains of contagion, access to antiviral and monoclonal treatments, and an efficient tracking and monitoring system.

He stressed that prevention measures continue to be up-to-date vaccination, hand hygiene, disinfection of common areas and the use of a mask.

The Department of Health revised the guidelines used for educational institutions, cataloging as recommendations some of the requirements established in the past. In this way, it is aligned with the provisions of the CDC in school facilities.

Here are the key changes made to the guides:

Isolation. The period of isolation varies depending on the presentation of symptoms. A person with a positive result who does not show symptoms will be in isolation for 5 days and will wear a mask from day six to ten. Children under 2 years of age who cannot wear a mask or people who for some medical reason cannot wear a mask, should be isolated until their 10th day. On the other hand, a person with mild to moderate symptoms should be isolated for 10 days. . In case of severe disease, immunocompromised persons or pregnant women, the period is determined in consultation with your health service provider.

Close Contact Monitoring: A person who was exposed within six feet for a cumulative time of 15 minutes to a person infected with COVID-19 does not have to quarantine, but must wear a mask inside the spaces of the school campus for 10 days after your exposure. The person will enter a period of symptom monitoring and will take a viral test on day 5 after exposure. They should continue to monitor for symptoms for 10 days after the last exposure. In case of presentation of symptoms between day 6 to 10, isolation should begin and a second viral test should be performed.

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