COVID-19 | Weekly Update

March 5, 2021

Friday, March 5th | COVID-19 Daily Update



According to the Portuguese General Directorate (DGS), Portugal had 949 new cases of infection and 28 deaths associated with COVID-19 over the last 24 hours.  

The daily epidemiological bulletin indicates that the country currently accounts for 808,405 confirmed cases and 16,486 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. 

At the same time, there are more than 1,606 patients recovered, bringing the total number of people free from the virus to 728,659.



The Portuguese Prime Minister says there is still much to be done to solve the weaknesses caused by the pandemic. 

In an interview, António Costa says it is not yet time to let the guard down because the evolution of COVID-19 is unpredictable. The epidemiologist Manuel Carmo Gomes also shares the same opinion and considers the greater transmissibility of the new variants of SARS-CoV-2 to be worrying. 

However, the Government already has in its possession a proposal for deconfinement, that shall be announced next week. According to the Prime Minister, this is a more cautious plan than the one put in practice in May 2020, with different deconfinement levels, one part at a national level, the other according to the indicators at the local level. 

The National Health Council recommended yesterday that the deconfinement should be gradual and accompanied by clear guidelines while ensuring the control of infection transmission.

Regarding the mass tests, Health Minister Marta Temido insists that the strategy is being prepared and the screening will be done by a new task force, which is still in formation. Besides, the Ministry of Education has already announced that it has made nearly seven million euros available for schools to purchase face-masks and other materials and personal protective equipment, especially for elementary school students.



British Minister Nadhim Zahawi, responsible for the distribution of vaccines, underlined that the United Kingdom has the largest genome sequencing industry in the world and that it is getting a “library” of all variants to be able to respond to any challenge that virus can launch. 

According to this official, there are about 4,000 variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The UK recorded 242 deaths and 6573 new cases in the last 24 hours. The British Government is already making preparations to accelerate a new generation of vaccines against COVID-19.

Danish health authorities have extended AstraZeneca / Oxford’s recommendation to use the Covid-19 vaccine to those over 65 years old based on a Scottish study.

In Italy, the Government announced that it has blocked, following the European Commission, the sending of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia after considering “the shortage of vaccines in the EU and Italy” and delays in supplies. New cases of COVID-19 in Italy have risen again, with 22,865 in the last 24 hours, and 339 new deaths. 

Germany, on the other hand, registered 10,580 new infections and 264 deaths.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Jair Bolsonaro again criticized the restrictions on economic activity imposed in what is the worst moment of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The country entered a phase of uncontrolled spread of the disease, with consecutive records of daily deaths in the last days and with a total of lives lost in Brazil approaching 260,000.  

In the USA, 1,016 deaths were registered in the last 24 hours and 39,222 new cases.

In Asia, the Japanese government announced its intention to extend the state of emergency in Tokyo for another two weeks, due to hospital overload.

Amnesty International has advanced that at least 17,000 health workers died of COVID-19 in 2020 worldwide and calls for “urgent action” to speed up the vaccination of these “highly exposed” and often “unprotected” workers.



Scientists have identified 16 cases of yet another new variant of the new coronavirus in the UK, which is said to have originated in the country. This variant has a mutation in common with the South African and Brazilian variants. 

Ireland’s health authorities are also investigating four events that may be associated with a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.

Researchers at the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health will, through more than 35,000 nasopharyngeal samples, assess co-infections with SARS-CoV-2 and see if the infectivity of the variants has changed over the past year.

In Japan, a supercomputer carried out simulations that show that using two face-masks simultaneously (one over the other) offers a limited benefit in an attempt to block the spread of viruses when compared to the appropriate use of a single mask, contrary to what has been imposed as the norm in the USA.



António Costa says that the economic damage of COVID-19 will not let one rest even when there are no more cases. The Portuguese Prime Minister points out that the pandemic exposed three vulnerabilities in the country: the need to strengthen the NHS, the precariousness of the labour market, and poor territorial planning.

Meanwhile, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa chose Bernardo Pires de Lima to be responsible for the new team of the President of the Republic for the political area, now called the Strategic and Prospective Area. 

With the recovery of the post-pandemic country and the management of the millions of euros that will come from Brussels at the top of the agenda, the President expects the Government to have a more structural and strategic vision and shows that he wants to keep a close watch on the whole process.  

Portugal is preparing to invest a 1/5 of the Recovery and Resilience Plan in the digital transition. Digital skills, internet use, or investment in innovation and development is below the European average, but for public administration specialist Maria Helena Monteiro, the pandemic may have allowed the country to be catapulted “with a sense of urgency for digital transition”.

According to data from INE (PT statistics bureau), those who were telecommuting at the end of last year earned, on average, 51% more than those whose work cannot be done from home. 

The European Institute for Gender Equality, on the other hand, reveals that women are being more affected by the pandemic, both at work outside the home and inside it. The study indicates that the first wave of the disease led to major job losses for both women and men, but job recovery was easier for the latter.

China has set a target for economic growth “above 6%” for 2021 and has announced plans to make the country technologically autonomous.



The PSI-20 started the session on Friday to increase by 0.10%, in counter-cycle with its European counterparts. 

In Germany, the DAX was down 0.64%, in the United Kingdom, the FTSE 100 was down 0.59%, the French CAC 40 was down 0.57%, the Dutch AEX was down 1.01%. In Spain, the IBEX35 depreciated 0.51%, and the Italian FTSE MIB decreased by 0.56%.

The price of gold, one of the refuge assets in times of uncertainty, has dropped to levels below $ 1,700 an ounce. Analysts relate this decline, especially that seen in recent weeks, to the increase in interest on sovereign debt, which has led investors to opt for fixed income instead of gold.

The main US indexes closed in a declining mood yesterday after the Federal Reserve chairman failed to alleviate market fears about rising interest rates on sovereign debt.