Friday, March 12th | COVID-19 Daily Update
Portugal registered 577 more cases of infection and 15 deaths associated with the new coronavirus in the last 24 hours. According to the DGS epidemiological bulletin, the country now counts 813,152 confirmed cases and 16,650 fatalities since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, another 5,574 people recovered from the disease, which makes the total number grow to 749,770.
PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
The Portuguese Prime Minister presented yesterday the deconfinement plan, approved by the Ministers’ Council, and was categorical: “Easter is not a moment for opening, but of confinement”, making it clear that “the deconfinement will be gradual, prudent, step-by-step”.
António Costa stated that the general duty of confinement, like the one that has been in force so far, is one of“ the general rules ”that must be maintained to fight the pandemic”.
The President of the Republic has already ensured convergence with the Government and classified the Government’s plan as “balanced and flexible”.
The Ministry of Health has given the green light to the commercialization of rapid tests in pharmacies and over-the-counter medicines shops, without the need for a medical prescription.
Concerning vaccination in schools, it will start with teachers and staff from daycare centres, kindergartens, and elementary schools. In total, there will be about 100,000 people who will start receiving the vaccine at the end of this month. This option is not consensual, especially given the current and persistent lack of vaccines.
Portugal has already announced that it will not suspend the administration of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine after cases of blood clots have been reported in people vaccinated with a specific lot, distributed to 17 European Union countries. In an official statement, Infarmed (PT Medicines Authority) justified the decision with the fact that the preliminary results suggest “there is no causal relationship between the administration of this vaccine and these events”.
PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
The World Health Organization (WHO) sees no reason for countries to suspend immunization campaigns with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Despite this, Bulgaria has today become the 11th European country to suspend the administration of AstraZeneca vaccines.
The European Medicines Agency has already opened an investigation into the case.
Thailand also decided to postpone the launch of the vaccination campaign with AstraZeneca vaccine due to fears that it may cause blood clots. The French Government has announced that it will continue to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite receiving fewer doses than initially expected, since the situation of the pandemic in the country, especially in the Paris region, will be “disturbing”.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca reveals that it is expected to deliver 30 million fewer vaccines to the EU in the first quarter. This reduction in the number of doses delivered to the Member States is yet another obstacle to the Community vaccination plan, marked by repeated delays by pharmaceutical companies.
In the USA, President Joe Biden is optimistic and has ordered all states to progressively lift age restrictions so that all adult Americans can be vaccinated by May 1st. Biden referred to a trajectory that allows for “a good chance” for a festive 4th of July, but stressed that “this fight is far from over”, and soon after expressed the conviction that “better days” will come.
Brazil, on the other hand, registers an astonishing and frightening rise, with 2,349 deaths in the last 24 hours, placing the country in the world-leading place in terms of patients deceased due to COVID-19.
India also had the worst daily record of infection cases over the last 24 hours, accounting for 23,285 more contagions.
A single shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against COVID-19 may be enough to protect people who have already been infected with the new coronavirus, concludes a study published in the prestigious “New England Journal of Medicine”. The results reveal that, after the first dose of both vaccines, people who previously had COVID-19 “quickly developed uniform and elevated” antibody levels “in the days following” the injection.
The African swine fever that led to the slaughter of thousands of pigs in China in 2018-2019 may have opened doors for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to enter people’s lives, suggests a pre-publication study (which has not yet been reviewed by independent scientists) from a British and Chinese team.
Researchers fear that the spread of African swine fever in Southeast Asia could have the same consequences on meat supply and open the door to the spread of other viruses commonly carried by bats in that region.
The Government will reopen, for one week, until the end of March, the application period for subsidies (non-refundable aid) of the Apoiar program. Besides, it will extend this aid mechanism to other sectors. Siza Vieira clarifies that this is “support now more comprehensive and more targeted, also, to the sectors that were most hit by the pandemic situation throughout this year, which aim to encourage companies to recover their activity shortly and that will continue, also for that reason, for a longer time”.
For now, companies that were not required to close in this confinement, but whose activity has been “significantly affected” will be able to access the simplified lay-off.
The Minister of Culture announced the extension of the support for Culture workers until May and presented the criteria defined for the distribution of funds from the Garantir Cultura program.
Yesterday, when presenting the deconfinement plan, António Costa stated that the main rule is to perform remote work whenever possible and the Ministry of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security guarantees that there is no change in the norms, namely the mandatory remote work and the fines aggravated for the double since mid-January for non-complying companies.
The Portuguese stock market today trades on the negative ground, in line with the main European counterparts, after five consecutive earnings sessions.
The PSI-20 was at 0.58. Among the main European markets, the German DAX lost 0.50%, the British FTSE 100 fell 0.18%, the French CAC 40 fell 0.13% and the Spanish IBEX yielded 0.24%. Investors are conservative the day after European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde revealed that the central bank will accelerate the pace of asset purchase under the emergency program over the next quarter.
The objective is to halt the increase in interest rates that has occurred in recent weeks.