‘Reckless optimism’, infectologists warn about mask removal in RO: ‘We are exhausted from talking so much’

After the desobligation of wearing masks, the cases of Covid-19 went up again in Rondônia (Reproduction/Internet)

Iury Lima – from Cenarium Magazine

VILHENA (RO) – The cases of Covid-19 went up again in Rondônia and, this time, the reason is what the specialists had already warned, but ‘are tired’ of repeating: the release of the mandatory use of masks. “We, infectologists, are exhausted of talking that this is not the time to remove the masks. This is a reckless optimism”, warned infectologist Nelson Barbosa in an interview to CENARIUM.

Since the State Decree No. 26.970 came into effect on March 14, allowing citizens to choose whether or not to use the prevention item in any environment, the rate of confirmed cases in the 52 municipalities reached 62%, that is, more than 3,500 diagnoses, therefore 1,356 more infection records than in the previous week, when the use of the non-pharmacological measure was still mandatory, period in which 2,180 positive tests for the disease were registered.


For the infectologist Ana Galdina, the quantity of more than 1300 cases in just seven days means “a high circulation of the virus in the population”. “So, if there is still this high prevalence of the virus, even if the cases are not so severe, due to vaccination, it is still a fact that there is a high viral circulation. Therefore, prevention measures still need to be encouraged. The decision should be to take a step back and return with the protective measures”, clarified the specialist to the report.

Rondônia has more than 380 thousand confirmed cases and 7 thousand victims of Covid-19 (Reproduction/Rondônia Government)

Hasty decision

Rondônia is not the only state to allow the use of the equipment indoors or outdoors, and in the whole country, at least 20 capitals have already followed the same path. Some of them were more specific and decided to disable the use anywhere; Porto Velho is the only one in the Legal Amazon.

Ana Galdina considers that the disuse of masks is “a worldwide movement” that takes into account the rate of immunized people and the monitoring of the drop in cases and hospitalizations, but that, even so, it needs intensive surveillance, since a specialist believes that such a scenario “is something that will inevitably happen” all over the country. However, in Rondônia, the government used predictions from an artificial intelligence (AI) to declare the withdrawal of the obligation.

“We replicate what happens in Europe, whether good or bad. It happens there, wait for it, in a few weeks, we will experience it here”, analyzed the infectious disease specialist. “Some countries in Europe, previously, had already evolved to a fall of the masks (…) Austria, for example, recently took a step back and returned to the obligatory use”, cited Galdina as an example.

For infectologist Ana Galdina, the removal of the masks is “a worldwide movement” that requires intensive surveillance (Reproduction/Personal File)

Surprise package

In a discreet way, the Rondônia government released only the release of the mandatory use of masks, but the truth is that the state decree authorizes much more than this in a hasty and dangerous package, in the evaluation of experts. Thus, Governor Coronel Marcos Rocha (PSL) declares:

  • Optional use of protective masks in all environments, without limitation of people, and there can be no restriction or refusal for access to any location;
  • The holding of events of all kinds, with no limitation on audience capacity and no time restriction, and
  • Exemption of prior proof of vaccination against Covid-19 (vaccine passport) for access or stay inside any public or private environment

“The relaxation of the use of masks and the release of shows without audience limit was a hasty conduct, because the pandemic is not over yet. The virus is still in our midst. So, a relaxation in the use of masks, in crowding, and in other non-pharmacological prevention measures will only cause the virus to strike again in our population”, criticized infectologist Nelson Barbosa.

Nelson cites the Chinese city of Sheyang as an example of fighting the virus (Reproduction/Personal archive)

Barbosa exemplifies, as a conduct to be adopted, what the administration of Shenyang did, a Chinese industrial city that, with only 47 new cases of Sar-Cov-2 infection, on Tuesday 22nd, declared a lockdown for 9 million inhabitants; “so you can see how serious the Chinese people are about facing the coronavirus pandemic,” says the infectologist.

In 24 hours, China had 4,700 new cases of the disease, while in Brazil, 14,543 new infection records were confirmed in the last day.

Bad example for the North Region

Observing the situation in the third largest state in the North of Brazil, the specialist is afraid of what might happen in Amazonas, since with the release of the obligation of masks in open environments in Manaus, in force since the 16th, the loosening of the measures may also become a trend in the neighboring federative unit.

“Rondônia is part of the North Region, so if a state in the North Region is having new cases of Coronavirus, this is because the conduct was not adequate; it was hasty and imprudent”, he reiterated. “We, in Brazil, have achieved almost 80% of vaccine coverage; here in Manaus it is at 85% and, in the whole state, it does not pass 60%. I believe that, as well as in Rondônia, in Manaus this decision to remove the masks was precicipated”, she added.

In Ana Galdina’s evaluation, Rondônia is lacking caution. “The state has to try to stimulate in the following way: ‘it is one step at a time’. We can’t open everything at once. The thing has to be staggered, so the staggering is how? ‘Look, at this first moment it is the release of masks, but there are restrictions on events’: this is the safest thing to do”, she suggests to the government.

Epidemiological picture

Rondonia has, until this Tuesday, 387,822 known cases of Covid-19 confirmed, besides 7,145 deaths.

Of the total number of infected, almost 370 thousand patients have been cured, but 10.8 thousand still have the virus active in their bodies; 69 are hospitalized, and the waiting list for ICU beds is still empty.

As for vaccination, more than 2.7 million doses were applied, contemplating 64.68% of the population with two doses or a single dose. Those who received a third dose of booster vaccination represent a little more than 20% of the people from Rondonia; almost the same rate of vaccinated children between 5 and 11 years old (20.69%).

No answer

Sought and questioned by CENARIUM MAGAZINE, the government of Rondônia was negligent, once again, and did not answer how the State Health Department (Sesau-RO) will deal with the increase in cases as a result of the loosened sanitation measures.

The Executive also did not inform, until the closing of this report, if the city halls will have the autonomy to require the use of masks and increase the restrictions of schedules, public limitation, and holding events in the municipalities.


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