Despite recording an increasing number of COVID-19 transmissions, the Spanish Health Authorities have said that they support the reopening of schools in September.

To start the process, the health and education ministries met with the representatives of the country’s 17 regions on 27 August to discuss measures for the safe reopening of schools.

The director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts, Fernando Simón, said that even though some areas of Spain have seen a rise in the number of infections, the “trend is stabilizing or even falling” in other regions. Simón also highlighted that the corona fatality rate only stands at 0.4 percent, and said that the country’s diagnostic capability continues to increase. 

Even though some regions are experiencing a spike in corona cases, Simón said that the country’s healthcare system has not been overwhelmed. Currently, 5 percent of hospital beds in Spain are taken up by COVID-19 patients. According to the ministry, on 27 August, 6,036 patients were hospitalized with the coronavirus, with 715 of this number in intensive care. 

Despite the continuing battle with the virus in Spain, Simón reiterated that reopening schools across the country is a priority. “We have to be very clear that the goal is to open schools as long as it is feasible and with on-site teaching,” he said. “It is true that Madrid has a rise in transmission that is much higher than other regions, but not in all. But it is [also] true that not every region is in the same situation and community transmission does not mean that schools cannot reopen. We have to assess the situation at every point [but] the main objective is to open them.”

“It’s true that there could be contagions at school, but we have to assess the risks and benefits of going [to school]. I believe that right now the risks, with the measures that are being proposed, are very low. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be an outbreak … but the likelihood is very low,” he continued.

Spain’s health minister, Salvador Illa, and education minister, Isabel Celaá, said that once schools reopen there will be very strict rules in relation to social distancing, wearing face masks and the ventilation of classrooms.

The goal of the policies is “to achieve the highest level of face-to-face teaching possible, and to manage a safe return to the classroom,” said Celaá.While the elderly remain at a relatively high risk of death if they contract the virus, this is not the story for youngsters. A recent BMJ study in the UK found that the hospitalization rate for children with COVID-19 is “tiny” and the need for critical care “even tinier.”

However, the study also found that obese children are at a slightly higher risk. “The appropriate nutrition can boost the immune system by supporting cells and producing antibodies. As such, it is important that children eat a healthy and balanced diet to fulfill their daily vitamin and mineral requirements at this critical time. A diet can also be enriched with supplements,” said health expert from SupplementNation.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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