Friday, March 19th | COVID-19 Daily Update
According to the Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS) data, over the last 24 hours, Portugal had 568 new cases of infection and 11 deaths associated with COVID-19.
Today’s epidemiological bulletin indicates that there are now 816,623 confirmed cases and 16,754 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
As for recovered patients, another 1,571 were recorded, increasing the total number to 766,170.
PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
Those who refuse to take the AstraZeneca vaccine will lose their turn and will have to wait.
And, even in the last phase of the operation, these people will be immunized with whatever vaccine is available, warns the coordinator of the task force for the national vaccination plan.
Yesterday, Portugal decided to resume vaccination, after the European Medicines Agency attested to the safety and efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, whose administration had been suspended in several European countries. The PT Prime Minister considers that “all doubts” about the AstraZeneca vaccine have been clarified and called for the union of Member States around the European Commission.
For now, the beginning of the vaccination process for teachers and non-teaching staff was scheduled for the 27th of March. The news was advanced after the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been lifted.
In turn, the Portuguese Association of Private Hospitalization reported that more than 4,600 health professionals from the private sector have not yet been vaccinated, reiterating the importance of immunizing those who work in health units in the private sector too.
At the end of next week, the Lisbon City Council will start a “universal and free” testing process in the parishes that have a cumulative incidence of 14 consecutive days above 120 average new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants.
The criteria for selling rapid tests at pharmacies or authorized over-the-counter (OTC) drugs selling points will be known today. Supermarkets will also be in the running, and those with OTC drug stores intend to sell them.
Several experts have warned that group immunity is a goal that may be impossible to achieve. On the other hand, the pulmonologist and coordinator of the Portuguese Guild of Medical Doctors crisis office, Filipe Froes, also states that “we will hardly return to the world before the pandemic”, but “only by trying” will we be able to get as close to that goal as possible.
The director of the European Sleep Center, Miguel Meira e Cruz, warned of the need for a coordinated strategy to counter the consequences of the pandemic and confinement on the quality of sleep of the Portuguese, which influences the cardiovascular, respiratory, and mental condition of the population.
PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
France will go into total confinement today. According to Prime Minister, Jean Castex, it is no longer possible to travel to other regions of the country, but daycare centres and schools will remain open.
The Czech government also said it would extend severe confinement in the country until Easter, given the continued infection with the new coronavirus and deaths at high levels.
In Germany, Angela Merkel and the leaders of the 16 regional states will meet on Monday to decide whether to adopt restrictive measures again, such as the closure of activities, after the opening decreed in early March. The country will try to stop the increasing number of infections by strengthening the vaccination campaign.
Today the British Prime Minister was expected to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed by the Swedish laboratory and the British University of Oxford.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the United States intends to reach the goal of administering 100 million doses already this Friday, ahead of schedule. “We are way ahead of our schedule, but there is still a long way to go,” said Joe Biden.
In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro said he is a victim of war and questioned whether “one only dies of COVID-19” in the country, which is one of the most affected by the pandemic in the world. At the moment, the country totals 284,775 deaths and more than 11 million cases of infection.
The European Medicines Agency continues to consider the AstraZeneca vaccine “safe and effective”. But it has not been able to rule out the possibility that there is a cause-effect relationship between the rare cases of blood clot formation with decreased platelets recorded in several countries, which have caused the death of nine people and led several countries to suspend the immunization campaign with this vaccine.
Nature scientific journal indicates five reasons why the long-awaited group immunity risks being an impossible goal to achieve and there are several reasons why it never happens, starting with the uncertainties that exist about the capacity of vaccines to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, but not to prevent the development of symptoms and especially severe symptoms.
Margrethe Vestager believes that there is “some hope that this summer may be normal in some way”. After the EU executive proposed on Wednesday the creation of a digital pass to prove vaccination, testing, or recovery of COVID-19, aiming to resume free movement, the official stressed that “it is very important” to be a bilingual document with a QR code.
In Portugal, the Tax and Customs Authority is preparing the creation of 7.2 million instalment plans for payment of tax debts that are already in the executive process. These plans include all taxes and all debts in tax execution for less than 5,000 euros and 10,000 euros and will cover 1.1 million taxpayers.
For now, the Minister of Internal Administration said that the Government has already asked the Ombudsman for a contribution to the revision of the legal framework for responding to health emergencies since the state of emergency was designed for other types of situations.
Eduardo Cabrita also admitted the possibility of municipal elections taking place on two weekends because of the pandemic, being open to considering other models, but it is up to the National Parliament to take that decision.
The Left Block (Bloco de Esquerda) political party also wants the right for remote work to cover workers with children up to the age of 12 years old or who have the status of informal caregiver, as long as this is compatible with the activity.
This is one of the changes that the party wants to make to the Labor Code and that is part of the bill it delivered yesterday in Parliament, where it widens the range of expenses to be paid by employers, leaving open how the costs should be calculated.
According to Eurostat, the rate of job offers dropped to 1.9% in the Euro Zone and 1.8% in the European Union in the fourth quarter of 2020, with Portugal presenting the second-lowest rate (0.7%).
In Brazil, the Brazilian President yesterday sent to the National Congress the provisional measure that instituted the return of emergency aid to unemployed and needy families during the pandemic. Up to 45.6 million families will benefit from this support, suspended since December.
The PSI-20 started the session, this Friday, falling 0.52% to 4,764.58 points, punished by the losses of Galp and BCP bank.
The oil company is falling more than 2% after the barrel of oil fell 7% due to the increase in cases of the new coronavirus in Europe and the appreciation of the US dollar.
In turn, Wall Street closed down again after, according to analysts, the French Prime Minister imposed a one-month blockade in Paris and several other French regions due to the pandemic crisis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 153 points, or 0.46%, to 32,862.37 points; the S&P 500 lost 58.62 points, or 1.48%, to 3,915.5 points; and the Nasdaq Composite fell 409.03 points, or 3.02%, to 13,116.17 points.
The yield on ten-year Treasury bonds exceeded 1.75%, reaching a 14-month high, a day after the Fed projected the strongest growth in almost 40 years when the pandemic crisis subsided.