Friday, December 5th | COVID-19 Daily Update
The Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS) epidemiological bulletin indicates that in the last 24 hours 73 people died in Portugal, with 6,087 new cases of COVID-19 infection being registered.
According to data released today, there are now 318,640 confirmed accumulated cases and 4,876 deaths in the country since the start of the pandemic.
On the other hand, 6,165 people recovered from the disease, which brings the total to 240,203.
PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
The Government will unveil today the measures for the Christmas and New Year period and until January 7th.
The new state of emergency approved yesterday reinforces the duties of providing information by the Government and the “responsible bodies” to the President of the Republic.
Giving the Portuguese a little peace of mind, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said that Christmas will have “less intense limitations” to allow the “expected meeting” of families to avoid a new outbreak in January.
Representatives of health centre professionals believe they can administer 400,000 doses of vaccines “in a week to ten days”. If the first phase of vaccination against COVID-19 is expected to be fast, the second will be more complicated, anticipating the need to hire more nurses and, above all, more clinical secretaries to summon people to vaccinate.
Vaccination will be provided primarily by about 40,000 nurses from the NHS, said the Secretary of State for Health and Assistant Secretary of State yesterday, adding that if necessary, these resources will be reinforced. The Government expects to have “3.6 million people vaccinated” in the first half of 2021.
Within a week, the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients in hospitals may reach, in the worst-case scenario, 3,897, according to estimates released today by the Portuguese Association of Hospital Administrators, which foresees a “flattening of the curve” in the North, Center, and Algarve, but not in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region.
In the Azores, the Regional Government denied that the Azores Health Service is at risk of rupture and guaranteed that there is still capacity in the archipelago’s hospitals to receive patients with COVID-19.
The Armed Forces created a support plan for 2,770 households, under which they have already carried out 1,500 actions and trained 20,000 employees on standards of action in the context of the pandemic.
PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
Recent progress on COVID-19 vaccines is positive, but the World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned that this has led to a growing – and wrong – the perception that the pandemic has come to an end.
Europe saw a greater increase in COVID-19 cases this week, after two weeks of a slowdown. In Italy, travel between regions during the festive season was prohibited.
Austria started testing the entire population, using rapid but also conventional tests, in an operation coordinated by the military.
Germany reached the second-highest number of deaths due to COVID-19 in one day, with 483 deaths. A total of 23,318 new infections with the new coronavirus were also confirmed, meaning 1,600 more than in the previous week.
Across the Atlantic, the US recorded 2,506 dead and 225,594 infected with the new coronavirus in the past 24 hours, a daily record of cases.
President-elect Joe Biden warned of the need for an equitable distribution of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in the country, a detail he considered to be lacking in the current administration’s plan.
Brazil accounted for 46,884 cases of infection and exceeded the 6.5 million confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Still in the country, Rio de Janeiro started yesterday a program that intends to perform up to 1,500 daily tests.
Russia recorded almost 29,000 cases of COVID-19, a new daily high since the pandemic began. Only yesterday, 508 people died, with Moscow being the country’s main infection focus with 7,993 new positive cases and 74 deaths. This spike in infections in the Russian capital coincided with the start of the vaccination campaign.
China identified 17 cases of COVID-19 over the last 24 hours, including two due to local contagion and the rest from abroad.
An investigation led by IBM reveals that companies based in Europe, South Korea, and Taiwan, which are specialized in the cold component of the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain are under a hacker attack and being targeted by a phishing campaign.
Three antihistamine drugs have shown some effectiveness in inhibiting cell infection by the new coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, according to a study by the University of Florida. Preliminary results reveal that the use of hydroxyzine, diphenhydramine, and azelastine is associated with “a reduced probability of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.
Pfizer guarantees that everything is ready to deliver the BNT162b2 vaccine in Portugal in less than a day, explaining the most common side effects and ensuring that in people over 65 the effectiveness is also greater than 94%.
The European Employment Commissioner says he expects an agreement or at least “enough progress” on the Community proposal to guarantee adequate minimum wages in all EU Member States. Nicolas Schmit underlined that “low wages will not allow the EU to recover” from the crisis caused by COVID-19.
However, the leader of the Confederation of Portuguese Farmers believes that raising the minimum wage now will lead to unemployment. The official also warns of the need for European funds for agriculture to arrive on time and without errors, regretting blockages by the Ministry of the Environment and the alienation of the Minister of Agriculture.
By 2022, Portugal will lose two-thirds of the jobs created since 2015, according to OECD data.
The second wave of the pandemic should push the Portuguese economy into a more critical situation than expected in terms of jobs and wages and several institutions predict that Portugal’s recovery will be three times slower than that pointed out by the Government and the European Commission.
On the other hand, the bicycle sector is one of the few industries that accelerated during the pandemic. Portugal, which in 2019 rose to become the European champion in bicycle production, hopes to repeat the feat this year, with the sector on the way to a new external record with another 10% of exports.
The COVID-19 pandemic should jeopardize globalization and cause a setback to a new era of protectionism. On the other hand, some see this crisis as the big accelerator, thanks to the recovery of global trade, driven by emergency fiscal and monetary stimuli, which allows the year to end in a strong recovery.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, considered, in a message at the Web Summit, that the pandemic of COVID-19 accelerated the “dependence on digital technologies”, but also exacerbated “inequalities of all kinds”, including in the use of digital.
The Lisbon Stock Exchange ended the week on a high in a lively session across Europe. The PSI-20 rose 1.37% to 4,702.8 points. In the main European indices, FTSE gained 0.92%, CAC rose 0.62% and DAX advanced 0.35%.
European stock exchanges recorded a positive balance for the fifth consecutive week. Progress in enabling vaccines against COVID-19 and energy gains, due to the agreement between OPEC and its allies, have helped boost markets in Europe.
In the US, Wall Street closed the week on the green, with the three indexes ending the session with gains. Despite weak job creation figures in November, markets were encouraged by Nancy Pelosi’s statements about a possible bipartisan deal for a stimulus package for the American economy. The S&P 500 closed up 0.88% and the Dow Jones gained 0.83% at the close, while the Nasdaq rose 0.70%.