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The Spanish region is banning smoking in public places outside in an effort to fight the coronavirus

A region in Spain has introduced a smoking ban in public places outside the home when social distance cannot be guaranteed.

The ban went into effect in Spain’s northwestern Galicia region on Thursday, while other areas are considering similar restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

According to a law passed late Wednesday by the regional government of Galicia and which went into effect at midnight, it is not allowed to remove a face mask for smoking in public if it is not possible to maintain a distance of two meters between people.

The move is supported by research from Spain’s Ministry of Health, which found last month that smoking can spread the virus because people project droplets when they exhale smoke.

In addition, the virus can be spread when a person removes their face mask to smoke a cigarette and by touching their cigarette before bringing it to their mouth.

A region in Spain has introduced a smoking ban in public places outside the home when social distance cannot be guaranteed. Above, a woman smokes a cafe terrace despite the ban on the first day the new law came into effect in Galicia

A region in Spain has introduced a smoking ban in public places outside the home when social distance cannot be guaranteed. Above, a woman smokes a cafe terrace despite the ban on the first day the new law came into effect in Galicia

The ban went into effect on Thursday in Spain's northwestern Galicia region. Above, a man smokes a cigarette on the terrace of a bar in Valencia on August 13

The ban went into effect on Thursday in Spain's northwestern Galicia region. Above, a man smokes a cigarette on the terrace of a bar in Valencia on August 13

The ban went into effect on Thursday in Spain’s northwestern Galicia region. Above, a man smokes a cigarette on the terrace of a bar in Valencia on August 13

In all of Spain, except the Canary Islands, the wearing of a face mask is mandatory in all public areas indoors and outdoors.

The Spanish Association of Epidemiology in July called for a ban on smoking in outdoor areas, arguing that there is a risk that smokers infected with COVID-19 but who are asymptomatic could ‘release droplets’ containing the virus’ the rest of the virus. population’.

The smoking ban is the first of its kind in Spain and is part of a series of new measures imposed by Galicia, best known as the destination for pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago, to stop the spread of COVID-19 .

It has already ordered the closure of bars and nightclubs and has limited the number of people who can enter shops at the same time.

Officials in other regions, such as Madrid and the southern region of Andalusia, along with those in the central regions of Castilla y Leon and Castilla La Mancha, said they are considering similar smoking restrictions.

Spain’s highly decentralized system of government makes the regions responsible for health care, leading to a patchwork of various measures to curb the virus in the country of 47 million people.

The World Health Organization has said that tobacco users are likely more vulnerable to being infected by the virus and may increase the chances of transmission of the disease because it involves contact of the fingers with the lips.

While the smoking ban was applauded by many medical experts, some questioned its effectiveness.

“There isn’t enough solid scientific information yet to show that tobacco smoke in open spaces can transmit the disease,” Fernando Garcia, an epidemiologist at the Carlos III Institute for Health, told AFP.

The Spanish Epidemiology Association called for a ban on smoking in outdoor areas in July. Above, a man smokes a cigarette on a street in Valencia on August 13, 2020

The Spanish Epidemiology Association called for a ban on smoking in outdoor areas in July. Above, a man smokes a cigarette on a street in Valencia on August 13, 2020

The Spanish Epidemiology Association called for a ban on smoking in outdoor areas in July. Above, a man smokes a cigarette on a street in Valencia on August 13, 2020

Does smoking increase the risk of coronavirus?

Smoking increases the risk of getting coronavirus, according to a large UK study that disputes growing evidence that the habit is protective.

A team from Imperial College London, King’s College London and Zoe – the developer of a symptom-tracking app – looked at 2.4 million Britons, 11 percent of whom said they smoke.

The main finding was that current smoking was associated with a ‘significantly increased risk of developing symptoms suggestive of COVID-19’.

Among “standard users” – those who never actually had a test – current smokers were 14 percent more likely to develop the classic triad of symptoms of COVID-19 than non-smokers.

These were fever, persistent cough and shortness of breath.

They were also 29 percent more likely to have more than five symptoms and 50 percent more likely to have more than 10 symptoms.

In addition, current smokers who tested positive were more than twice as likely to go to the hospital because of COVID-19.

The findings contrast sharply with the smaller and less accurate papers so far, and cite a lower risk of hospitalization in smokers.

“Taking such an extreme measure when there isn’t enough evidence is a bit disproportionate to me.”

With 30 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, Galicia has one of the lowest prevalence rates of the virus in Spain, which has nearly 330,000 infections, the highest in Western Europe.

The smoking ban comes as the country struggles with the highest contamination rate in Western Europe. Spain now has 376,864 confirmed total cases and 28,579 deaths.

In the past 14 days alone, Spain has confirmed 44,400 new cases, compared to only 4,700 new cases registered by Italy, with a population of 60 million, the first European country to be rocked by the virus.

Spain is still in good shape compared to many countries in America, where the spread in the United States, Mexico and several South American countries seems unchecked.

But hospitalizations with COVID-19 have increased fivefold in Spain since early July, when cases came to a head after a severe lockdown halted an initial wave of the virus that had pushed the health care system to a breaking point.

On Tuesday, the Spanish ministry reported that 805 people across the country had been hospitalized in the past seven days. Half of the 64 people who died in the past week came from Aragon, the region around Zaragoza.

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