“It is on the table” or “it is being evaluated” are some of the answers given by the Ministry of Health to the question of whether to adopt a preventive measure that has been demanding the residential sector for months, conducting tests periodic tests to detect covid-19 in all the centers for the elderly in the Valencian Community.
Although sources from the department headed by Ana Barceló assure that there is still no decision made in this regard, much less a date for its implementation, this newspaper has been able to know that the idea is quite advanced and that it has even been specified that they are tests for antigens that They will be carried out periodically only to the staff of the residences, not to the residents, regardless of whether there have already been outbreaks or it is a center that has had zero positive cases throughout the pandemic.
So far from the Valencian Administration in matters of Health were reluctant to consider regular tests in residences as an effective measure to prevent the spread of infections within this type of social and health centers.
On the one hand, because they warn that this does not guarantee 100% that the person who has tested negative and does not present symptoms does not have the virus, and, on the other, because of the feeling of false security that it can generate in residences , where there is a danger that they will relax in the application of other preventive measures with their residents.
But nevertheless, experts who advise the Ministry of Health have advised the implementation of periodic antigen tests to nursing home workers, as it is the main entry point of the virus in the centers, in order to avoid massive outbreaks such as those that occurred in recent weeks in the Llíria residence, with 116 positives – 95% of them asymptomatic – and in the Pobla de Vallbona , with 63 residents and ten workers infected, most of them also without symptoms of the virus.
Four months late
Both the Business Association of Residences and Services for Dependent Persons of the Valencian Community (Aerte) and Lares, an organization that groups together non-profit entities, agree on the need to implement this prevention measure as soon as possible to favor the early detection of virus in centers. “There are more and more voices in favor of carrying out periodic tests in residences,” says José María Toro, president of the Aerte employer, although he states that the measure would arrive “four months late.”
“We do not understand this distrust of the sector and why our proposals have not been heard before,” says Toro. In the last meeting held last week by the main residence managers of the Community and the employer’s association with those responsible for the Health and Inclusive Policies departments; In which the regional secretary of Public Health, Isaura Navarro and the general director of Social Services infrastructures, Enric Juan were present, precisely this question of periodic tests was addressed.
“They told us they were looking at it, at least evaluating it, but we didn’t come up with the idea that they were going to implant it”, sources of Aerte acknowledge, although they see positive that at least now they do consider it and do not rule it out completely. In addition, they clarify that this measure would complement all the others that are already being carried out, and that due to the numbers of infections and their severity, it seems that they are working. “At no time would it mean that the residences lower their guard, but if this measure avoids a single death it will have been worth it,” they insist.
The Interterritorial Health Council of the Ministry of Health already advised in August to carry out PCR tests to workers in nursing homes. Similarly, the Minister for Inclusive Policies, Mónica Oltra, also spoke out in favor of testing the center’s staff, considering that testing all residents would be too “invasive” a measure.
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