COVID-19 | Weekly Update

December 19, 2020

Saturday, December 19th | COVID-19 Daily Update



The Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS) revealed that in the last 24 hours, 86 deaths and 3,835 new cases of COVID-19 infection were registered in Portugal.  

According to the epidemiological bulletin of this entity, the country accounts for 6,063 deaths and 370,787 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic. 

On the other hand, another 4,124 people recovered from the disease, which increases the total number to 294,814.



In total, there are now 113 municipalities at very high or extreme risk of transmitting COVID-19 and which are this weekend in mandatory curfew from 13h00.

Meanwhile, the vaccination plan against the disease is due to start on the 27th of December in Portugal. The first ones to receive the vaccine should be the health professionals at Curry Cabral, Estefânia, and São João hospitals. 

During a hearing, yesterday in the National Parliament on the Government’s strategy to fight the pandemic, Minister of Health Marta Temido did not commit to dates to achieve group immunity but said that Portugal expects to receive 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of the first quarter of next year, adding that users who belong to the priority groups for the first phase of vaccination and are not called should contact the NHS.

The Prime Minister, António Costa, was considered to be under a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, who tested positive, so he will remain in prophylactic isolation until the end of the 14-day active surveillance period. 

On the other hand, the director-general of Health is recovered and returns to work on Monday, about three weeks after being infected at a work meeting. In an interview to “Sol” newspaper, Graça Freitas confesses that she is relieved “for not having any complications and not having infected anyone”.

Yesterday, in an interview, specialist Carlos Antunes warned that more than 1,200 people will die from the disease by the end of the year in Portugal, explaining that the numbers will be a consequence of the relief of containment measures at Christmas.



The World Health Organization (WHO) warned yesterday that in the next six months there may be a high number of infections and deaths from COVID-19, despite the vaccination that is starting in several countries.  

The entity’s regional office in Europe appealed to Europeans to avoid family reunions at Christmas or, if they do, to practice social detachment and wear face masks inside the houses. Across Europe, there are several restrictions imposed on the Christmas season.

France recorded 264 deaths in the last 24 hours, thus leading the country to exceed the milestone of 60,000 deaths related to the disease. Among the most recent cases of infection is the French President himself, Emmanuel Macron, who has already admitted that he caught the virus at a time of neglect. 

In Spain, the vaccination campaign starts on the 27th with the Pfizer vaccine and, for the third consecutive day, Germany has registered more than 30,000 new cases in 24 hours.  

The Italian Government, meanwhile, announced almost total confinement throughout the country during the festivities to prevent the virus from spreading. Yesterday, the country recorded 17,992 new cases and 674 deaths. 

Sweden recommended for the first time the use of face masks in public transport, a turning point in what has been the Nordic country’s strategy to contain the pandemic. 

On the other side of the Atlantic, Brazil yesterday reported 52,544 more cases of infection and 823 deaths, with the USA registering more than 236,000 cases and 2,710 deaths. The country also reported a second case of adverse reaction to the vaccine.

The global COVAX initiative, aimed at getting vaccines against COVID-19 to the poorest countries, announced yesterday that it has agreements to access close to two billion doses, and the first is due to be delivered during the first quarter of 2021.

The WHO mission charged with investigating the origin of SARS-CoV-2 will visit the Chinese city of Wuhan without being supervised by Beijing. The guarantee was advanced yesterday by a person in charge of the structure.



The agency that regulates the drug and food market in the USA (FDA) yesterday authorized the use of a second vaccine against COVID-19, the vaccine produced by Moderna.  

Switzerland announced today that it has approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer / BioNTech. 

Still in the field of vaccines, a professor at the University of Oxford warned that, due to the mutations of the new coronavirus, these could become ineffective and not be enough to stop the pandemic.

A team of South African researchers has detected a new variant of the coronavirus that affects younger patients, the country’s health minister announced yesterday. According to the investigation in question, this variant may be the cause for more severe forms of the disease in younger patients.

The National Institute of Health Ricardo Jorge yesterday appealed to the Portuguese to participate in the Gripenet system, through an online questionnaire that aims to monitor the evolution of the seasonal flu epidemic and COVID-19.



The Apoiar program has already received 36,000 applications from companies and paid close to 98 million euros, according to data revealed yesterday by the Portuguese Economy Minister in the National Parliament. Pedro Siza Vieira also revealed that 6% of the supported companies are in the cultural area, with around 16.8 million euros. 

Also yesterday, the Parliament approved the Government’s proposal that extends until June 30, 2021, the suspension of the assignment of non-housing lease contracts and that includes protection measures for establishments that have been closed since March. 

On the other hand, according to Banco de Portugal, the national banking system granted a total of 46 billion euros in credit default until September, under the systems implemented following the pandemic.

The restaurant businessmen welcomed the new measures against COVID-19 for the New Year and have already scheduled a new demonstration for next Monday. The association that represents them, AHRESP, regrets the lack of stability in the Government’s measures and even speaks of a ruined end of the year. 

The Government has already informed, however, that it will allow these establishments to request compensation for the billing losses recorded that day, through specific support measures.



The main Portuguese stock index ended yesterday’s session at a low level, devaluing 1.30%, to 4,762.99 points, in line with the main European markets, which all closed down. Despite the daily drop, the PSI-20 recorded the biggest weekly gain cycle of the decade.

North American markets also ended the week with losses, largely motivated by the stalemate in the approval of the economic stimulus package of the country most affected by the pandemic.