Wednesday, April 30th | COVID-19 Daily Update
The Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS) announced today that the number of recovered people rose from 1,470 to 1,519 in the last 24 hours (+3.3%).
There have been 16 more deaths and 540 new cases of infection with COVID-19 in Portugal.
According to the daily official bulletin, the number of fatalities went from 973 to 989 (+1,6%), while confirmed cases increased from 24,505 to 25,045 (+2,2%).
PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
The Ministers’ Council meets today to fine-tune the plan of measures for progressive end of confinement, which begins on May 2nd, with the end of the state of emergency.
The Prime Minister consulted yesterday with the social partners and the political parties with parliamentary representation.
In a Socialist Party podcast, quoted by TSF, the Minister of Health said she did not believe that the Portuguese NHS can respond alone to the post-COVID moment. Marta Temido spoke of a “huge difficulty” in the waiting lists and admitted that the Government may need help from private healthcare providers.
DGS advised, within the scope of the National Occupational Health Program, all companies to promote self-measurement of temperature by workers, to reinforce the disinfection of surfaces in workplaces, and to reorganize teams to guarantee the safety distance between employees.
Yesterday, the Director-General of Health assured that Portugal has no cases of children with a rare inflammatory reaction related to COVID-19. Graça Freitas said that Portuguese paediatricians are aware of the warnings and are monitoring the situation.
A report by the National School of Public Health indicates that a third of health professionals are failing in the self-surveillance required by DGS.
In terms of research, the University of Beira Interior announced that, together with the three hospitals in Beira Interior, it will study the immunity of the population in the districts of Castelo Branco and Guarda.
PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
Sweden today admitted asking the EU to investigate the source of the new coronavirus pandemic, joining other countries. This decision was taken after the Nordic country announced that it has exceeded the 20,000 confirmed positive cases and over 2,400 deaths with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Chinese government today refused to accept an investigation into the origin of the new coronavirus, pointing out that it would be “politicized” and biased by “presuming that China is guilty”.
The United States is still the country with the most deaths and confirmed cases. In the last 24 hours, 2,502 deaths were registered, with the total number of infected people rising to 1,038,451.
In Italy, 323 deaths and 2,086 new cases were registered in 24 hours, numbers lower than the previous balance. The head of the strategy to combat COVID-19 declared that that country is prepared for an eventual second wave of infections.
In Spain, too, there was a slowdown in the growth rate. The total number of fatalities has risen in the last 24 hours from 24,275 to 24,543, while the number of infected has increased from 212,917 to 213,435 since the beginning of the outbreak.
In Germany, 1,478 new cases were diagnosed, with an additional 173 people killed. The total number of fatalities amounts to 6,288.
Russia has surpassed the 100,000 known cases of infection with the new coronavirus, having already registered 1,073 deaths caused by COVID-19.
In Japan, the Government is planning to extend the state of emergency.
The case of India, however, is baffling experts. The second most populous country in the world yesterday officially surpassed the barrier of a thousand deaths, registering about 31 thousand cases of infection, numbers well below those of Europe or the USA.
The Gilead Sciences laboratory announced yesterday that its experimental antiviral drug Remdesivir had “positive results” in patients with COVID-19, as part of a large clinical trial conducted in partnership with American health institutes.
These results have led the FDA to consider authorizing the use of this drug in the USA for the treatment of patients infected with the new coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Pfizer will start testing a vaccine as early as next week, while BioNTech, with whom it is working, has already started testing in humans. Together, both companies say they are in a position to supply millions of doses by the end of the year.
The European Central Bank is meeting today and may demonstrate its ability to go further after exceptional measures to limit the economic effects of the pandemic.
Eurostat revealed that the Eurozone economy contracted 3.3% in the first quarter, compared to the same period last year. The unemployment rate was 7.4% in March.
In Portugal, the Government today announces how economic activities will return to activity once the state of emergency is over. Portugal is expected to have a three-stage process with progressive openings on the 4th of May, 18th of May and 1st of June.
The first commercial spaces to open will be the ones up to 200m2, hairdressers, barbershops, auto dealers, bookstores, and some public services.
The pandemic continues to keep price levels under pressure in Portugal. Preliminary data from INE (Portuguese Statistics Bureau) indicate that the annual inflation rate has been fixed at 0% in April.
According to the Ministry of Labor, Solidarity, and Social Security, almost 60,000 people registered with the IEFP (Institute for Employment and Professional Training) as unemployed between the end of March and the 29th of April. The potential universe of lay-off workers now exceeds 1.2 million.
In an interview with SIC Notícias, the Minister of Economy admitted that it was not possible to process all the 95,000 lay-off requests that the Government received, justifying that the Social Security did not have the capacity for the overwhelming dimension of the situation.
The State will pay support to 22,000 of the 38,000 companies with the approved lay-off process, with the remainder receiving until May 5th. The Minister of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security said that Social Security will pay 150 million euros this month for the measures created by the Government to respond to the crisis.
The Minister of Infrastructure considered that the public works sector will be fundamental and will play a decisive role in boosting economic activity, given the crisis caused by the new coronavirus.
Across the Atlantic, the pandemic is already affecting the world’s largest economy. US GDP is expected to have dropped by 4.8% in the first quarter.
The Lisbon Stock Exchange was advancing this morning towards the fourth consecutive session in the green, in line with the gains recorded by European peers, given the prospects for relief in the crisis caused by the new coronavirus and possible new stimuli on the part of the European Central Bank. The Portuguese Stock Index PSI-20 amounted to 0.67%, with most of its 18 titles on positive ground.
The European Stoxx 600 appreciated more than 0.3%.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Wall Street exchanges closed higher, driven by optimism about the experimental drug (Remdesivir) that could help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the oil market, today is a new day of recovery in prices. This morning crude oil was up 13%, while Brent was up 7%.