The federal government is studying to make the mandatory use of respiratory protection masks in work environments more flexible. The information was confirmed today (30) by the Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga. “We are trying to harmonize the measures that have already been adopted by states and municipalities,” said Queiroga.
The minister participated in the presentation ceremony of the new portfolio integrity plan, with actions that will be developed throughout this and next year to fight corruption within the ministry.
According to the executive secretary of the portfolio, Rodrigo Otávio da Cruz, the “possibility of making the use of masks more flexible in the work environment” has been jointly discussed by the ministries of Health and Labor and Welfare.
“We are discussing some newsrooms, some legal issues, with the expectation of publishing an interministerial ordinance soon”, highlighted Cruz. According to him, what is expected is that the legal instrument, containing the new instructions and procedures, will be ready for publication by next week at the latest.
The measures under analysis aim to modify the established by the Interministerial Ordinance No. 14, from January of this year. The text establishes that the use of surgical or fabric masks must be kept in work environments – a determination that, while in force (which will occur until the publication of a new interministerial ordinance that renders it ineffective), overlaps with the possible end of the mandatory use of masks in closed places by governors and mayors.
According to the executive secretary of the Ministry of Health, before changing the rules for the use of masks in work environments, the federal government must propose new rules for the entry of travelers into Brazil. “What is closer, in fact, is the interministerial ordinance to adjust the border, according to the guidelines and recommendations of Anvisa [Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária]which allowed for some flexibility”, said Cruz, referring to the technical note that the regulatory agency issued on the 23rd.
In the note, Anvisa recommended to the ministries of Health, Civil House, Justice and Public Security and Infrastructure, to update the Interministerial Ordinance 666/2022which, in January of this year, established the “exceptional and temporary measures” for the admission of visitors to Brazilian territory, due to the concern with the increase in the number of cases of covid-19 registered at the beginning of the year, due to the Omicron.
During the event, Queiroga and Cruz denied that the government had proposed to change the status from covid-19 pandemic to endemic. According to the executive secretary, what is being discussed, as it is within the sphere of competence of the ministry, is the federal recognition of the end of the public health emergency of national importance, declared on February 3, 2020.
“What is up to the Ministry of Health is, in fact, to decree the end of the public health emergency of national importance. And not to lower the level from a pandemic to an endemic one”, said Cruz, after the minister assured that there is still no definition even regarding this possible change.
“Although this is a discretionary act of the minister, it depends on a series of analyses, such as the analysis of the epidemiological scenario – which, fortunately, each day leads to greater control of the spread of the disease. We have a sustained drop in the number of cases for the last 15 days. drop in the number of deaths. The second condition is the structure of our hospital system, especially the ICUs. The third point is that we have certain drugs that may have a more effective action in the fight against covid-19, in its initial phase, to prevent the disease from evolving into a severe form.”