Friday, June 18th | COVID-19 Daily Update
Portugal registered, over the last 24 hours, four more fatalities and 1,298 new people infected with COVID-19, according to the epidemiological bulletin of the Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS).
Data released today show that the number of deaths has risen to 17,061 while confirmed cases have risen to 862,926.
The number of people recovered also increased by 686 to a total of 818,404.
The national Rt is now 1.14 and the incidence is at 100,2 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants over the last 14 days. For Braga County, the number of cases is 177, above the national average incidence, with about 20 new cases of COVID-19 every day.
THE PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
The European Center for Disease Control shows that, for a month, Portugal was the best country in the European Union in terms of the number of cases. However, the situation has been getting worse and the country registered, in the last 14 days, 81 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants, a value above the European average. On the other hand, it is the fifth country in the European Union with fewer deaths, showing that the mortality rate dropped significantly.
Data indicate that hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to rise and most are concentrated in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region. For now, the cases are less serious and the patients younger.
However, the Health Minister said yesterday that hospitals in the Lisbon region have already been placed on prevention. Marta Temido stressed that the pressure on the NHS is not a “factor of major concern” at this time, but rather the health of the individual and the most affected population, as the consequences of the disease in the medium and long term are not yet fully known.
The deterioration of the pandemic situation in Portugal should call into question the plan foreseen by the Government for the deconfinement process, and it is now “very difficult” for the last phase of the reopening, scheduled for the next 28th of June, to take place.
For now, the ban on circulation, to and from the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, is back in effect from 3:00 pm today until 6:00 am on Monday. These measures generated some controversy, as the president of the Portuguese Guild of Lawyers, Luís Menezes Leitão, considered them “clearly unconstitutional”.
The government has already rejected the existence of any unconstitutionality, claiming that these restrictions are “expressly provided for” in the Basic Civil Protection Law, said the Prime Minister’s assistant secretary of state.
Paulo Paixão, president of the Portuguese Society of Virology, considers that the restrictive measures announced: “will not do much good”. He sustains, however, that something had to be done and that the decision about more serious measures was “inevitable”.
Today, the National Parliament is debating the management of the pandemic in the post-emergency state, in a question raised by the CDS-PP (right-wing), which wants to assess the vaccination process and support for economic and social recovery.
DGS Director Graça Freitas said yesterday that Portugal has been “extremely careful” in vaccination because vaccines are “very potent medicines” that are administered to healthy people. The Director-General of Health also stressed that “safety” is “an enormous value” in everything, but said that “in vaccination is very important even for the capital of trust” that the population has in vaccination and this is because the Portuguese know that “when they are vaccinated they are being safely protected”.
Meanwhile, the DGS revealed that in two million people with a complete vaccination schedule for more than 14 days in Portugal, 1,231 contracted the infection by SARS-CoV-2, 43 were hospitalized and five died.
The Deputy Secretary of State for Health has already recognized that 2021 will be decisive in preparing the future of the NHS and sustained a “transforming path” for Portugal.
THE PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
The European Aviation Safety Agency and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control recommend that European travellers vaccinated and recovered from COVID-19 are not required to undergo testing and quarantines.
At issue are guidelines released yesterday for safe air travel in terms of health in the European Union, at a time when the COVID-19 certificate proving vaccination, recovery, or testing is about to come into force and that more than half of the population has received at least the first dose of the vaccine.
Meanwhile, the European Council has added the US, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Lebanon, and Taiwan to the list of countries and territories that have the green light to enter the EU. It was also decided to gradually lift the restrictions imposed on the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong.
For now, Spain announced this morning that it will no longer be mandatory to wear face masks abroad from the 26th of June. It is the second European country to take this step after France.
Across the Atlantic, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that infection with the new coronavirus provides a more effective immunization than the vaccine and that “all those who contracted the virus are vaccinated”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has, however, warned that the third wave of infections “is growing and accelerating” in Africa due to the new variants, calling for an increase in the supply of vaccines. According to Matshidiso Moeti, WHO director for Africa, the number of cases “is increasing by 22% per week” across the continent.
In turn, Israel will send the Palestinian Authority a million doses of vaccines that are about to expire, in exchange for a similar number of vaccines that Palestinians hope to receive later.
The British director-general of health said that only in five years will there be polyvalent vaccines capable of protecting against new variants of SARS-CoV-2. However, until they appear on the market, health authorities must prepare for a challenging winter and to boost population vaccination in the next “two or three years”.
For now, Portuguese virologist Miguel Prudencio explains that vaccines are not 100% effective, but some are more than 90% efficient. However, this high degree of immunity only appears two to three weeks after the vaccination is completed. Therefore, it is expected that contagions will occur during this period.
Scientists are now investigating whether the Delta variant, initially identified in India, could undermine the vaccine’s protection against serious disease.
The Portuguese Prime Minister sustained today that “solidarity” must be the foundation of the EU, which has demonstrated it in this pandemic crisis, and warned of the need for Europe to give its citizens “hope and confidence in the future”.
António Costa was speaking at the closing ceremony of the academic year 2020-21 of the College of Europe, where he left “a reflection on the future of Europe”. Highlighting the “urgency of socio-economic recovery after the biggest and most serious crisis that Europe has known since the Second World War”, António Costa stressed that the first objective of the Portuguese semester was to allow “rediscovering prosperity through a recovery centred on the double transition to ‘green’ and digital”.
Yesterday, the prime minister considered urgent the fight against precariousness and informality in the labour market, stating that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed with “brutality” the inequalities in the world of labour and affected, above all, the most vulnerable citizens.
This position was conveyed by António Costa at the “World of Work Summit”, which was promoted by the International Labor Organization.
The president of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe, considers that Portugal has prepared a good recovery program, and says that the economic recovery is underway. This was verified in the post-program surveillance reports prepared for four countries. Donohoe referred to Spain, Cyprus, Ireland, and Portugal, identifying positive signs in the respective reports, which “show that the economic recovery is underway”.
The Portuguese stock market was trading in negative territory this morning, following the trend of the main European counterparts.
The PSI-20 lost 0.24% to 5,169.39 points, extending yesterday’s session losses.
Among the main European markets, the German DAX yielded 0.07%, the British FTSE 100 slipped 0.05% and the Spanish IBEX dropped 0.17%. The French CAC 40, on the other hand, amounted to 0.07%.