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Fiocruz: Resumption of activities must include combined strategies

The combination of vaccination with measures such as wearing face masks, observing social distancing, and requiring proof of vaccination from those entering certain spaces is crucial to the resumption of activities, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, or Fiocruz, says in its weekly COVID-19 Observatory report, published Friday (Oct. 15).

According to researchers at the foundation, requiring a vaccine passport for access to shared indoor areas lowers the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus. Regarding mask use, the document underscores that, if at least 80 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, rules may be relaxed, but wearing face masks must be mandatory in closed spaces as well as outdoors if there are gatherings.

“Faced with less than 50 percent of the population with their vaccine schedule complete, we stress the importance of a vaccine passport as a public policy encouraging vaccination and collective protection, and ensuring that other measures are upheld—like wearing masks, keeping one’s hands sanitized, and observing social as well as physical distancing. The combination of these measures is key for us to resume activities in a prudent manner, as is the case in Singapore, an exemplary country in tackling the pandemic,” the text released by Fiocruz reads.

“The experience of other countries has shows that the success in the control of the pandemic in this new stage requires, in addition to elevated vaccine coverage, the association of other measures.”

Reduction in cases and deaths

Brazil’s pandemic stats have seen a solid downward trajectory since July, which is chiefly due to the increase in the number of vaccinated people. Reported to be on the wane were the proportion of positive tests, the incidence of new cases, the ICU bed occupancy rate, and the mortality rate.

Nonetheless, Fiocruz shows that the reductions are losing speed. In August and September, an average shrinkage of two percent was observed in the daily case and death tallies, whereas late in September and early in October, the daily pace of reduction stood at 0.5 percent for cases, 1.2 percent for deaths.

The transmission rates of SARS-CoV-2 in the country are still described as high, which makes it vital that vaccine coverage continues on the rise for a number of groups, coupled with efforts to locate those who have not received the second dose, as well as the expansion of the booster dose for vulnerable groups.

Adult ICU hospitalizations for COVID-19 are outside of the alert zone in 25 of the 27 Brazilian states, in which occupancy rates are below 60 percent. The exceptions are the Federal District—currently within the critical alert range (89%) due to a reduction in the number of beds—and Espírito Santo, which is still in the intermediate alert zone (65%).

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