Sunday, August 1

Castilla y León refuses to reveal the names of the mysterious “working group” that now decides the restrictions and forces parks to be closed and seated dancing

A “working group” created on July 15 and coordinated by the Ministry of Public Works and Health decides from now on the restrictions that are imposed in Castilla y León. But knowing who is in this group is impossible. From the Ministry of Development they indicate that it is Health who coordinates it, and from Health they refuse to provide the list of professionals that make it up.

With its creation, the expert committee that was formed in March 2020, and which is made up of virologists, epidemiologists, emergency physicians and other specialists, has been relegated while its decisions are evaluated by a ‘phantom’ working group. They have not been consulted since last July 5, when they proposed a series of measures that the Board is now adopting in part, two weeks later and with an overwhelming situation. Castilla y León is the third community with the highest incidence in 7 days and the second in 14 in this fifth wave.

As has learned, the proposal of the committee of experts was to determine whether to continue applying the traffic light approved by the Ministry and place the Community at level 2 and climb later if necessary, or opt for more measures’ surgical ‘or priority for the situation, such as the closure of nightlife and bar consumption. They considered that these measures could work to stop the contagion in the age groups that frequent this leisure most. The issue of the curfew was also discussed, assuming that it would be necessary to have judicial support if it was committed to it, a measure that the Board has finally rejected.

One of the proposals that the Board has not applied, for the moment, is to convey awareness messages, which could be harsh in some cases, as well as the reminder that the mask can only be used outdoors when it is assured the safety distance.

The closure of parks and the seated dances, a proposal that the experts did not make

On the other hand, the experts referred to avoiding mass events linked to festivities, both officially and unofficially. The Board has only chosen to prohibit the opening of the peñas and to force the dances to be held with a seated public, as well as the festivals. What was not suggested at any time was the closure of public parks, a measure with which the Board intends to suppress bottles, and which is difficult to comply with. Without regional police, there are not enough National and Local agents to monitor these spaces. However, this surprising measure has a clear political intention because it directly involves the local authorities and the Government Delegation. In the case of municipalities, those of the largest cities with the highest incidence of cases, such as Burgos, León and Valladolid, governed by the PSOE, are compromised. The Junta, since May, when Isabel Díaz Ayuso swept the Community of Madrid in the elections, has put aside the health strategy to focus on politics, which involves opposing the central government. The reduction in the delivery of vaccines, the elimination of masks in open spaces and the lack of a tool that allows to decree curfews now focus the messages of the autonomous government. The restrictions, which he has refused to take, were communicated on Monday at the edge of nine o’clock at night by email and silence on the matter was maintained on social networks both in the institutional account of the Junta de Castilla y León as in the personal accounts of the president, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, and the vice president, Francisco Igea, until the press conference on Tuesday, in which the latter acknowledged that in the Community Government they had been “idiots”, given the figures contagion.

Despite the Board’s refusal to reveal who make up the working group that decides on the proposals of the expert committee, it did communicate their names and positions in a press release when it created it, in March 2020. The president is the counselor, Verónica Casado and the vice president, the general director of Public Health, Carmen Pacheco Martínez. The rest of the participants are Ignacio Rosell Aguilar, specialist in Preventive Medicine and Public Health, secretary of the committee; Cristina Ruiz Sopeña, head of the Epidemiology Service of the General Directorate of Public Health; José María Eiros Bouza, head of the Microbiology Service of the ‘Río Hortega’ University Hospital, in Valladolid and professor at the Valladolid School of Medicine; Andrés Álvarez Hodel, emergency physician at the Hospital de Medina del Campo (Valladolid) and member of the Spanish and Leonese Society of Family and Community Medicine (SOCALEMFyC); Sonsoles Paniagua Tejo, head of the Preventive Medicine Section of the ‘Río Hortega’ University Hospital; Jorge Elizaga Corrales, specialist in Internal Medicine and manager of the Segovia Healthcare; Ana M.ª Haro Pérez, specialist in Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the Salamanca University Assistance Complex; José Ramón Casal Codesido, head of the Emergency Service of the Hospital de El Bierzo; José Manuel de la Fuente, a doctor specializing in occupational health; Flor de Castro Rodríguez, manager of Sanitary Emergencies of Sacyl; María José Pérez Boillos, a specialist in Preventive Medicine and an expert in patient safety; Francisco Martín Rodríguez, Health Emergencies nurse; Tomás Ruiz Albi, from the Pneumology Service of the ‘Río Hortega’ University Hospital; Tomás Caro-Patón Carmona, from the Hospital Pharmacy Service of the ‘Río Hortega’ University Hospital; Ana Cristina Hernández de Diego, from the Soria Healthcare Complex; and Mercedes Garrido Redondo, president of the Castilla y León Association of Primary Care Pediatrics.

The Junta de Castilla y León has underlined its transparency on several occasions, especially with regard to the minutes of the expert committee that is posted on the web, but for the moment it has not made public those of the ‘working group’.

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