COVID-19 | Weekly Update

February 19, 2021

Friday, February 19th | COVID-19 Daily Update



Over the last 24 hours, Portugal had 67 fatalities (the lowest number in many weeks) and 1,940 new people infected with the new coronavirus, according to the Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS) epidemiological bulletin.  

The data released today show that the accumulated number of deaths rose to 15,821, while confirmed cases increased to 794,769.  

The number of people recovered increased by 4,404 to a total of 691,886.



The Government is preparing the operationalization of the new testing strategy for COVID-19, far more extensive, which was launched last week by the DGS, said an official source from the Ministry of Health.  

Thus, the DGS extended the testing to SARS-CoV-2 to all positive case contacts, including low risk since February 12th. 

However, the Minister of State and the Presidency, dismissed the hypothesis of deconfining soon, although the numbers of infected and hospitalized with COVID-19 are decreasing at a reassuring pace. Mariana Vieira da Silva warned of the need of managing the expectations of the Portuguese. 

Elderly people over 80 years old and people aged 50 or over, with underlying conditions and a higher risk in the case of COVID-19 have already started to be vaccinated, but the criteria for the calling are not uniform in the country.  

In the North, Center, and Algarve it was decided that people should be summoned by age, but in Lisbon and Tagus Valley area the choice is determined at random. 

The vaccination of the security forces and firefighters will no longer have a place due to the lack of vaccines, with the vaccination being strengthened for people aged 80 and over and between 50 and 79 years old with chronic illnesses.

Family doctors have reduced the referral of patients for specialized medical appointments in hospitals by between 30 and 50%, said the president of APAH (Association of Hospitals Administrators), considering this situation as “dramatic”. According to released data, health centres made 11.4 million fewer face-to-face medical appointments in 2020 compared to 2019 (-38%).



The head of the WHO anti-COVID technical unit, Maria Van Kerkhove, said there was no evidence that the variant of the virus identified in South Africa is more deadly than others. “Yes, there was an increase in the contagion capacity, similar to what we observed with the UK variant,” she admitted. 

US President Joe Biden will announce that the United States will begin to inject $4 billion into the international vaccination plan against COVID-19, COVAX, aimed at disadvantaged countries.

With a prevalence of 36% of the variant detected in the United Kingdom in positive cases in France, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, announced that the isolation period for confirmed cases in the country goes from seven to ten days. 

Germany, on the other hand, recorded, in 24 hours, 9,113 new cases and 508 deaths related to COVID-19. The information is contained in the most recent epidemiological bulletin released by the Robert Koch Institute.

Japanese health officials have revealed that more than 90 cases of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 have been identified. “It can be more contagious than conventional variants and, if it continues to spread internally, it can lead to a rapid increase in cases,” said a Japanese government spokesman.



In the case of acute respiratory failure, there is now an algorithm that indicates the best time to start, scale or suspend non-invasive respiratory therapy. The algorithm created by the two pulmonologists is information open to all clinicians and has already been put into practice, for example, at Cascais Hospital.

Two epidemiologists warned, in the journal “Science”, that only the development of a “universal vaccine” for the various types of coronavirus could prevent future pandemics. According to scientists Wayne Koff and Seth Berkley, supporting research in this direction “must be a worldwide effort”.

A mutation in the SARS-Cov-2 Spike protein, found in the British, South African, and Brazilian variants, makes the new coronavirus up to eight times more infectious in human cells than the one that first appeared in China, reveals a scientific study.



The WHO strategic plan launched to tackle the pandemic this year contains six objectives and an estimated $1.96 billion funding requirement, announced the organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

In the year in which Portugal was hit by one of the biggest economic crises ever, household indebtedness skyrocketed to the highest level in the last four years. In total, the level of household debt increased by 2.3 billion euros (ME) to 141.3 thousand ME, according to data released by Banco de Portugal. 

The Government admitted that the extension of the family support measure to some parents in teleworking and with rising values for single-parent families or where there is weekly sharing of care for minor children does not answer all the concerns expressed, but argues that more restrictive measures aim to guarantee the sustainability of global pandemic response support.

The date set on the calendar for the end of credit default is September 2021. At a time when the extension of default on areas of activity most pressured by the crisis is on the table, tourism wants to see the postponement of loan instalments extended at least until the end of the year.

“The capitalization and liquidity of companies are urgent”, says AHRESP (Restaurants association), which presented a package of “urgent measures” to the Government to support one of the sectors “especially impacted by the effects of COVID-19”, trying to ensure the survival of companies and the maintenance of jobs. 

The five-week delay in the vaccination plan to immunize the population against SARS-CoV-2 could cost Europe’s vaults some 90 billion euros if the pace of the process does not accelerate, estimates Euler Hermes.



The Portuguese stock exchange opened higher this morning, with the PSI-20 adding 0.11% to the 4,710.31 points. 

There were nine listed to support the green, against six that fall in the red and three that do not move. The main European stock exchanges also opened up today. 

EuroStoxx 600 was up 0.19% to 413.35 points, while the London, Paris, and Frankfurt stock exchanges were up 0.05%, 0.25%, and 0.27%, as well as Milan’s which was valued 0, 13%. Madrid was the exception, as it decreased by 0.14%.