On Friday (20), the Municipal Health Department (SMS) of Curitiba again recommended the use of masks in closed or open places that have agglomerations of people. The measure, which is not mandatory, was taken after the capital recorded a rise in the number of new cases and active cases of covid-19 at the same time that the health system faces increased demands for care for other respiratory diseases. .
The recommendation is for the population to wear the mask in public transport, bus terminals, tube stations, concerts, schools, games, malls, stores, supermarkets, among others. The indication already in force for the use of protective equipment in health facilities and by people with respiratory symptoms (regardless of location) also remains.
On March 29, the city of Curitiba, through Municipal Decree 420/2022, abolished the mandatory use of masks also in closed environments. At the time, the city had less than a thousand active cases (with transmission potential), according to data from the Covid Panel. And the moving average of these cases was down 65.3% compared to the beginning of that month, while the moving average of the number of deaths registered a 50% reduction.
Currently, however, the capital of Paraná is experiencing a new wave of covid-19, with a contamination curve that shows an upward trend and also reflects the entry of the BA.2 subline of the Ômicron variant in the city. This underlining already represents 86.7% of the total samples in Paraná.
On Friday (27), SMS reported 1,782 new cases of the disease and one death. The moving average of cases in the last seven days, according to SMS bulletin, is 1,598 cases, an increase of almost 87% in a period of 15 days. The number of active cases increased by more than 115% in the same period, with 11,668 people in the active phase of the disease. And the moving average of deaths due to covid-19 grew 80% in two weeks. So far, more than 450,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus in Curitiba and 8,282 have lost their lives as a result of the pandemic.
Increase in respiratory illness in the cold
Faced with this scenario, the use of masks is once again necessary and will probably need to be mandatory again, as highlighted by Dr. Moacir Pires Ramos, Infectologist and Epidemiologist at the Regional Office of the Ministry of Health (MDS) in Paraná.
He explains that the South of Brazil has historically recorded an increase in respiratory syndromes in the coldest months, such as May, for example. And that, as the infectologist warns, is enough for the population to wear masks everywhere.
“Winter is a very delicate period, in which we have an increase in respiratory diseases, including covid-19. Thus, the use of a mask must be recurrent not only because of the coronavirus, but also because of other diseases such as Influenza, for example”, highlights the epidemiologist.
Ramos adds that, given the high number of cases in Curitiba, the use of masks will soon be mandatory again. “I have no doubt that the use of masks will be mandatory again in Curitiba. The scenario indicates this, with the arrival of the cold, respiratory diseases will continue to grow and among them Covid-19. This can saturate our healthcare system. Therefore, the use of protective equipment should certainly be mandatory”, he says.
The return of mandatory masks is also recommended by the Union of Workers and Workers of the Public Health and Welfare Service of the state of Paraná (SindSaúde-PR). The entity highlighted this demand to the State Department of Health (Sesa), in a meeting held on Tuesday (24), as revealed by Luciane Nunes Borges, one of the directors of the Union.
“Our position is that masks should be mandatory in all environments. We even took this position to the State Health Department during a meeting and they are also evaluating this possibility,” she says.
The Municipal Health Department of Curitiba told the Brazil de Fact Paraná, by means of a note, which, if necessary, will issue a decree again determining the mandatory use of masks in the capital. And he pointed out that the recommendation for the use of the equipment in closed environments was necessary after the capital registered a 10% increase above what was expected for this time of year in cases of respiratory symptoms.
“The recommendation to wear the mask indoors and in open environments with agglomeration is part of the measures adopted to face this moment. Among the actions, since the end of April, the Municipal Health Department of Curitiba has been adopting actions to reorganize its network to absorb the calls, such as directing light staff to care via teleconsultation with Health professionals through Central 3350-9000 ; activation of priority pediatric beds for these cases, suspension of a portion of elective surgeries to prioritize hospitalizations for cases of respiratory symptoms, reorganization of Health Units for care in ‘Y’ (with an axis for care of respiratory cases and another axis for the others demands) and the opening of Health Units on Saturdays for the emergency care of people with respiratory symptoms.
End of mandatory use was hasty?
For SindSaúde, the end of mandatory masks last March was a hasty attitude and the number of cases and hospitalizations for covid-19 prove this.
As for Dr. Moacir, the numbers of the disease at that time allowed the end of the obligation. “I don’t believe it was hasty, because there was a significant reduction in the number of cases at that time. However, with the rise in disease records in recent weeks, the return of mandatory is inevitable ”, he says.
The Municipal Health Department also highlights that the abolition of mandatory mask use was possible at that time. “The decisions on the health measures to be adopted by the municipality follow a series of indicators of the pandemic evaluated weekly. The epidemiological situation at the end of March was different from the scenario at the end of May. At that time, the city had less than a thousand active cases, when the predominant covid virus in circulation was an omicron variant in its original subline (BA.1). At the end of May, with the entry into circulation of the subline BA.2 of the ômicron, the epidemiological scenario in Curitiba has a new high in cases of covid-19 – there are 11,600 active cases – associated with other respiratory viruses that circulated strongly again, putting pressure on the health system to increase care for other respiratory diseases”, reinforces the SMS note.
Source: BdF Paraná
Editing: Frédi Vasconcelos and Lia Bianchini