Wednesday, April 18th | COVID-19 Daily Update
The data presented today by the Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS) show that, in the last 24 hours, the number of people recovered increased from 519 to 610 (+17.5%).
There were 30 fatalities in Portugal with the new coronavirus, a number that increased from 657 to 687 (+4.6%).
As for the number of confirmed infections, 663 more cases were registered in the same period, rising from 19.022 to 19.685 (+3.5%) the total number of confirmed cases.
PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
The Government decree on the third period of the state of emergency in Portugal came into force last midnight and will run until May the 2nd. The main changes are related to the exception open to the duty of confinement to allow participation in the official celebrations of Labor Day, on May 1st, and the lifting of the sanitary fence in the municipality of Ovar.
During these two weeks, the Government is not obliged to pay compensations to private individuals in public-private partnerships, as evidenced by an exceptional and temporary decree-law approved yesterday by the Ministers’ Council.
The Government is already drawing up a plan to restore some normality to the country next May, as Prime Minister António Costa revealed in an interview to Expresso weekly newspaper.
Despite expectations, Portugal is the 16th country with most deaths and most confirmed cases, but it is also the country with most tests at a proportional rate to its population. The Director-General of Health, Graça Freitas, called for discipline among the population to prevent the virus from spreading.
The Health Regulatory Authority issued recommendations to health establishments yesterday regarding the assistance to pregnant women in the context of the pandemic, after having become aware of the existence of constraints in the access to ultra-sounds and other medical exams “essential to pregnancy surveillance”.
PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
After being criticized during the financial crisis, Greece now serves as an example for its rapid response to the pandemic. The plan was drafted as early as January and the containment measures have been largely complied with, allowing only 2.207 confirmed cases and 105 deaths to be reported by Thursday.
Austria, the Czech Republic, and Denmark were among the European countries that implemented more drastic measures earlier to contain the virus. These countries are now considering a broader relaxation of restrictions imposed on the population about a month ago.
The latest assessment by health authorities reveals that Spain has exceeded 20.000 deaths, totaling 20-043 fatalities and 191.726 infected.
Italy recorded 575 more deaths yesterday which brings the total to 22.745 but continued the decline in the number of infected and hospitalized persons.
Germany saw an increase of 242 fatalities over the previous day, bringing the number to 4.110, reveals the Robert Koch Institute.
The United States is currently the most affected country, with more than 36.000 deceased and 700.000 confirmed infections.
The UK has created a new working group that will support 21 vaccine research projects for COVID-19. Scientists at the University of Oxford are already producing around one million doses of a potential vaccine securing that it will be available to the public by September, although clinical trials have yet to prove its effectiveness.
There are more than 50 scientific projects in the search for a vaccine and the major European and American pharmaceutical companies unite in an unprecedented way in this fight against the clock. However, the director of the Sanofi-Pasteur Department of Public Health, Jean Lang, only points to the start of vaccination in the second half of 2021.
Fitch rating agency yesterday lowered the outlook for Portugal’s rating from “positive” to “stable” and anticipates an interruption of recent favourable trends, both in the economy and in debt.
The European Commission has already approved direct state aid of 140 million euros from Portugal to support companies that develop medicines, vaccines, ventilators, and protective clothing, pointing out that this expenditure “is of the greatest importance to face the current health crisis”.
The first half of April marked the biggest monthly rise in the level of unemployment ever in the available records, with almost 32.000 people removed from the labour market in Portugal. And many may be left without support this month because, according to the Ministry of Labor’s Office of Studies and Planning, they are not eligible to access unemployment benefits.
Miguel Frasquilho, chairman of airline company TAP, advanced with a request for assistance to the State due to the impact of the new coronavirus, but David Neeleman, one of the owners of the Atlantic Gateway consortium, the company’s largest private shareholder, has already clarified that “what TAP needs from the State is a guarantee, not a loan ”.
The Spanish Government is preparing a vital minimum income that is expected to provide direct support to three million Spaniards as early as May and is expected to continue beyond the pandemic, but the amount of this aid is not yet defined.
The World Bank president said yesterday that this crisis could erase the development progress made by poor countries in recent years.
European stock markets registered a mixed movement this week, while on Wall Street the balance was positive.
The Stoxx 600 recorded a 0.50% gain to 333.47 points for the week. The slowdown in the spread of the coronavirus and the easing of restrictive measures by some countries were factors that improved investors’ confidence, but that did not positively affect all stock markets.
The German Dax gained ground, but stock exchanges such as the ones of Madrid and Lisbon, which yesterday valued 1.59% to 4,172.21 points were in the red zone in the overall of the four sessions.