10th Jan 2022 @ 10:10 am

Spain is drawing up plans to treat the monitoring of Covid more like the flu, which are likely to be implemented once the sixth wave passes.

Mass vaccinations that have provided protection for millions and the milder nature of the Omicron variant have already led to a relaxation of measures, and Spanish health professionals are now working on a plan to treat Covid as another respiratory disease.

The Covid monitoring system will be called Centinela (Sentinel), and would be similar to the way flu is monitored on an annual basis, with selected doctors in hospitals or health centres monitoring the progress of the disease in their area, and results being treated as samples rather than each case being counted individually. In fact, a Sentinel system has existed for flu for several years, but was suspended during the pandemic.

The project has been underway since summer 2020, but health professionals now believe the process of monitoring the progress of Covid in a similar way to flu will be in place later this year

“Now, given the immense contagiousness of Covid, its a huge challenge to monitor it universally, and is becoming impossible,” Ampara Larrauri of the National Centre for Epidemiology told El País. “We’re relaxing protocols, such as no longer testing close contacts of asymptomatic cases.” .

“Because of this we’ll be moving from, universal vigilance to the monitoring of acute, non-serious cases at health centres and serious respiratory illnesses in hospitals.”

The Canarian Health Service has operated flu monitoring systems for several years and produces an detailed annual report for each flu season. Although the Sentinel system for monitoring flu was suspended in March 2020, hospitals still test for and report flu cases on a weekly basis.

This winter, for example, there have been 81 cases of flu registered in Canarian hospitals, none of them of a serious nature.

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