After recording successive records of new cases, deaths and hospitalizations for Covid-19, Portugal is preparing for a new general childbirth. The measure was confirmed by the government on Saturday (9).
In principle, the lockdown is expected to be approved by Parliament next Wednesday (13) and enter into force the next day. The new restrictions are expected to follow the model of the first lockdown, but with one significant difference: schools, in principle, will remain open.
“What we are going to do is a containment very close to the one that existed during the months of March and April, making sure not to close anything that has not been closed [no primeiro lockdown]“Said Saturday (9) the Minister of the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva.
She stressed that industry, agriculture and the distribution sector will remain open, as well as in the first lockdown. Before hitting the hammer on all restrictions, the Portuguese executive awaits a meeting with experts. The government is asking, however, that citizens are already starting to isolate themselves.
“It is not necessary to wait for a new decree when we know that in view of these figures, it is our duty to protect ourselves, by reducing our contacts to the essential as much as possible. […] As there are more people infected, the risk of each of us becoming infected also increases, ”added Vieira da Silva.
Unlike other countries on the continent, such as France and Germany, Portugal still keeps the bulk of the trade and service sector open, including restaurants, cinemas and fitness centers. It is precisely these activities that must eventually come to an end.
Highly praised for the initial reaction in the first months of the pandemic, the Portuguese government has come under fire for responding to the new wave of coronavirus cases. Unlike other European countries, Portugal has not stepped up restrictions on built-up areas and travel during the Christmas period. On the contrary: there was a relaxation of measures between 23 and 26 December.
Although the rules have been tightened for New Year’s celebrations, experts see serious consequences in the decision not to place limits on the number of people gathered at Christmas.
Last Friday (8), the country – which has just over 10 million people – recorded its worst day in a pandemic so far, with a record of new diagnoses (10,176) and deaths (118).
Over the past 4 days, with small variations, the number of new cases has been close to 10,000, which has never happened.
Under pressure, the national health system (SNS) is already showing signs of exhaustion. Lisbon’s public hospitals have reached their capacity to accommodate Covid patients and are already transferring patients to other regions, such as Porto, Covilhã and Algarve.
In a note, the Portuguese Medical Association says that previous figures for the pandemic already predicted that the situation in the country would depend on measures adopted during the holidays, but that the government chose to “take the political decision to lift the measures of ‘containment”. .
The organization also criticized the communication strategy of the vaccination campaign against Covid-19, which began on December 27. The day before, the authorities sent text messages to the mobile phones of all residents of the country to warn of the start of vaccinations.
According to the Ordem dos Médicos, the communication “will have contributed to the reduction of the perception of the risk by the population”. Since the start of the pandemic, Portugal has recorded 476,187 cases and 7,701 deaths.