New variant does not change SP plans for masks, New Year’s and Carnival

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New variant does not change SP plans for masks, New Year’s and Carnival

The discovery of the B.1.1.529 (ômicron) variant in South Africa, which worries scientists because it is potentially more transmissible, has not changed — at least for the time being — decisions by the São Paulo government and the city of São Paulo on issues such as release of masks and realization of New Year and Carnival parties.

To ask about possible changes, the sheet sought this Friday (26), through its press offices, the offices of Mayor Ricardo Nunes (MDB) and Governor João Doria (PSDB), in addition to the municipal and state secretariats of Health.

The questions asked by the article —about the maintenance of the flexibility of outdoor masks from December 11 in the state of São Paulo and authorization for New Year’s Eve and Carnival events— were not answered by the municipal administration until the conclusion of this text.

The State Department of Health stated, in a note, that it monitors the epidemiological scenario in the territory and that the behavior of a virus can be different in different places, due to demographic and climatic factors, for example.

The agency recommends that the population get vaccinated against Covid-19 and also says that any measure adopted to fight the pandemic is preceded by technical analyzes with the Scientific Committee and the State Immunization Plan, in light of the disease indicators.

In recent days, before the appearance of the new strain, some cities in the interior of São Paulo and also on the coast had already decided to cancel Carnival celebrations.

Fears that the new variant is even more transmissible than delta, but not as susceptible to the vaccines already available, have made governments around the world suspend flights from southern Africa or require quarantines on arrivals from countries where it has already been detected, like Israel and Belgium, in addition to the Africans.

On Friday night, Brazil decided to bar the entry of those who had been, in the last 14 days, in six African countries: South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland (Eswatini), Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

The guideline is that the notification of suspected or confirmed cases of the new variant is immediate. In suspected cases of travelers from countries with the strain in circulation, the person must be monitored for 14 days when they present symptoms of the disease and for seven days if they are asymptomatic.

A sheet also sought this Friday the Cosems (Council of Municipal Health Secretaries) of the State of São Paulo. The group, however, stated that it still has no subsidies to issue an opinion on the matter, according to its press office.

For the Conass (National Council of Health Secretaries), the current stage of the pandemic requires prudence and caution. The recommendation is that health managers make decisions based on the epidemiological situation and advances in vaccination in the territories, but that they also continue to observe the national and international frameworks, based on the latest scientific evidence.

“Parties involving crowds, where it is natural for people to neglect prevention measures more, demand planning months in advance, requiring an anticipation of the health situation that is impossible to trace,” he said in a statement.

“Although the Brazilian scenario has improved considerably, Conass feels the duty to appeal to all managers of the Unified Health System to the need to monitor epidemiological data and reassess health decisions to contain new waves of contamination”, he adds. .

For the sanitarian Gonzalo Vecina Neto, professor of public health at USP, regardless of the new variant, the government must retreat from Carnival and the New Year.

“We’ll see what happens next, whether this variant crosses the Atlantic and comes here. If that happens and its profile is similar to delta and gamma, it doesn’t change the game much, but if it turns out that it is resistant to any of the vaccines, then we will see the disaster,” he says.

According to epidemiologist Paulo Lotufo, also a professor at USP, decisions must be assessed individually.

For the specialist, the release of the use of masks in open places, which is planned to take place from December 11th in the state of São Paulo, is feasible so far. In relation to New Year’s Eve and Carnival, Lotufo considers it a mistake.

“Our great hope is that the vaccines approved for the age group between five and 11 will come out and that we will be able to vaccinate the kids in January so that everyone is vaccinated in February at school. Our priority is school, not Carnival and New Year’s Eve” , it says.​

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