The Council has not imposed any sanctions on people who skip quarantine in the province
Breaking isolation is considered a serious or very serious offence if it carries a significant risk to public health. Fines can range from 600 to 60,000 euros
"I called COVID patients to see how they were and I found them in the supermarket, on the beach or directly in a bar." This is the mantra that primary care nurses and doctors have been repeating for a few months: many coronavirus patients skip quarantine.
A serious breach and a risk to public health that is still going unpunished. And it is that the Generalitat has not put for the moment any sanctions in the province of Alicante for going out into the street knowing that you are sick. This was confirmed this week by the Regional Secretariat for security and Emergency, which is the body responsible for ultimately imposing sanctions in this area. Sources from this department, which is part of the Department of Justice, point to the difficulty of proving such violations. "It's not as easy to prove as not wearing a mask. The procedure must comply with all guarantees of legal certainty and that is complicated, unless it is something very blatant." It was the case of the woman arrested in San Sebastian after skipping quarantine despite being sick with coronavirus to go surfing. The young woman's companions called the police after seeing her in the water and several officers came to the beach, equipped with PPE, and arrested her.
The difficulty of demonstrating the rupture of isolation is repeated, the same sources of the Regional Secretariat of security and emergency, to pursue the crowd meetings within the homes, as it is a private space.
At the end of July, the Generalitat adopted a decree-law with the specific sanctions regime against non-compliance with COVIDs preventive measures. In this decree it is recognized as a serious fault that people who have tested positive for COVID skip quarantine, violation that can carry a penalty ranging between 600 and 30,000 euros. In the event that the breach of the quarantine entails serious damage to public health is considered a very serious infringement, punishable by fines of between 30,000 and 60,000 euros. The decree also establishes as a minor offence, which carries penalties of 60 to 600 euros, the breaking of quarantines by persons who have given negative to COVID but who are close contacts of a sick person.
The police are in charge of opening the sanctions files, which are then sent to the Generalitat Valenciana, which is the one that finally confirms the sanction. Since the Decree-Law was published, no such sanctions have been resolved in the province, although the autonomous Secretariat of security and Emergency warns that police files arrive with a certain gap. "The decree is more deterrent than punitive and we are aware that there are difficult situations to control," the same sources said. 90% of the penalties that have been imposed for non-compliance with the measures against COVID are for not wearing a mask, considered a minor offence fined between 60 and 600 euros.
For professionals working in health centres trying to contain the pandemic, it is very frustrating to find cases of patients skipping isolation. "You call and suddenly you hear a lot of background noise. When you ask him and he tells you that he is not at home you do not even know what to tell him about the anger he gives you", said days ago a nurse from a Health Center in the city of Alicante. In these cases, the protocol states that the case must be communicated to Public Health to initiate proceedings to open the sanctioning file.
Recently, the director of Public Health in Alicante also expressed the difficulty of prosecuting such violations, noting that the case of a family that had taken their child to school with a positive PCR had been detected and had not been sanctioned. In view of these statements, the medical Union has sent letters to the Public Health Directorate of Alicante and to the General Hospitals of Alicante and Sant Joan in which it requests information on the number of cases of suspected non-compliance reported by the trackers working in primary care, as well as the number of information files initiated by the Public Health Directorate of Alicante.