Wednesday, April 3rd | COVID-19 Daily Update
The Portuguese General Health Directorate announced today, in its daily epidemiological bulletin, the registration of 246 deaths (+37) and 9,886 cases (+852) of confirmed infection with COVID-19 in Portugal, with 74,337 suspected cases. There are 68 reported cases of recovered patients.
The growth rate of positive cases in the last 24hours was 9.4%. There are 1058 people hospitalized, 245 of which in Intensive Care Units. The wide majority are being treated at home.
THE PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
The President of the Republic extended the state of emergency in the country until April 17 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, in a communication to the country, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said that the economic and social effects of the new coronavirus will be “profound” and with “lasting effects”. Also yesterday, the Prime Minister presented the new measures to take effect during the new period of the state of emergency. In the Azores, the Regional Government decided to fix sanitary fences in the six municipalities of the island of São Miguel, to cope with the pandemic in the region.
The Secretary of State for Health announced that Portugal will double its ventilation capacity. António Lacerda Sales also said that next week more than 200 thousand tests for COVID-19 will arrive in Portugal. According to the Secretary of State for Internal Administration, security forces and services and firefighters will become priority tests.
It was also revealed that the new coronavirus has already infected 1,124 health professionals in Portugal, including 206 doctors and 282 nurses. In the health facilities, the number of critically ill patients with COVID-19 admitted to intensive care has grown 20-fold in less than three weeks.
The Council of Portuguese Medical Schools recommends the widespread use of masks to reduce the risk of contamination.
PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
There are now over 1 million positive cases worldwide, 210.000 of which are considered to be recovered, and 52.000 deceased. Although these are still terrible numbers, the balance is highly positive.
The United States recorded 1,169 deaths in the last 24 hours from COVID-19, the worst daily world record in any country ever since the pandemic outbreak, according to a Johns Hopkins University count.
Spain announced 932 more deaths in the last 24 hours, on the second consecutive day with more than 900 fatalities. The balance of victims now stands at 117,710 infected and 10,935 fatalities. In Germany, the Robert Koch health institute announced the registration of another 6,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and 145 deaths. The death toll has risen to 1,017, while those infected are now 79,696. Yesterday, France said it has recorded the highest number of new infections and deaths in hospitals, although it also increased the number of recoveries.
Every day Italy moves away from the peak of March 21, when it registered the highest number of new infections in the country. Today, the head of the Italian Civil Protection said that the confinement due to the pandemic will last at least until the 2nd of May.
David Heymann, chairman of the WHO group of experts on COVID-19, said yesterday that the organization will reevaluate its recommendations on the use of masks to prevent contamination.
Researchers have identified a drug, in clinical testing, that blocks the effects of the disease caused by the new coronavirus in the initial stage of infection.
Australia will begin testing two vaccines over the next few months, which are the result of a partnership between a British university and an American laboratory. Australia is also one of four countries that will test whether the 100 years old BCG vaccine helps fight coronavirus.
In Italy, Ruxolitinib, a medicine used to treat adult patients with a rare type of blood cancer, has cured eight seriously ill people with COVID-19. Novartis has already offered to dispense it free of charge. Another drug, Favipiravir, has shown, according to some tests, a greater ability to stop the pandemic.
In Portugal, a team of engineers and doctors created a simpler ventilator that can be used on patients with COVID-19, 25 times cheaper than normal ones, costing as much as 1000€ per unit.
The Portuguese Prime Minister said yesterday that one of the changes contemplated in the extension of the state of emergency is that the Authority for Working Conditions will be able to “suspend any dismissal whose signs of illegality are evident”. The Council of Ministers also decided to give the possibility for companies and workers to agree on the vacation map within ten days after the end of the state of emergency. Another of the measures announced is that public procurement will be facilitated at various levels. The Government is also preparing a specific package of measures for the aviation sector, covering all economic agents in the sector.
Meanwhile, the first state-backed credit line to be launched to support companies affected by the impact of the pandemic, with 400 million euros of funding, is running out.
Yesterday, the European Commission proposed the creation of a fund of 100 billion euros for loans to the Member States, aiming to support schemes of temporary support to employment and to preserve jobs.
The PMI Index, prepared by IHS Markit, indicates that commercial activity in the Eurozone collapsed in March, in the face of governments’ measures to close most of its businesses, to stop the spread of the coronavirus. In the entertainment area, the Rock in Rio organizers in Portugal announced a measure that was already expected: the ninth edition of the music festival was postponed to 2021.
Shortly after the opening of today’s session, the Portuguese PSI-20 was retreating in line with European peers, on a day when fears about the pandemic once again marked investor sentiment. The national index depreciated 0.3%, with the majority of the securities on the negative ground. The European stock index Stoxx 600 slid 0.2%.