Friday, May 21st | COVID-19 Daily Update
According to the Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS) epidemiological bulletin, over the last 24 hours, 559 more cases of infection and three deaths associated with COVID-19 were registered in Portugal.
The data released today indicate that there are now 844,288 confirmed cases and 17,017 fatalities.
Concerning people who recovered from the disease, another 462 were registered, bringing the total number to 804,984. Regarding the Rt (transmissibility rate), it rose again and is now at 1.03.
PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
The vaccination strategy will change as a significant increase in the arrival of vaccine doses is expected for June: it is possible that, in mainland Portugal, the vaccination of people aged 30 and over will start next month, occurring simultaneously with that of age groups of 40 and 50 years, informed the task force for the national vaccination plan against COVID-19.
Madeira island will receive 32,000 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson in June, a higher number than initially forecasted, as announced yesterday by the president of the Regional Government, which maintains the objective of having 70% of the population inoculated in September.
In addition, the DGS updated the guidelines for restaurants, but contrary to the owners’ claims, there are practically no changes compared to what was already foreseen. Only people from the same household should sit less than two meters away, either inside the restaurants or at the terraces.
The transmissibility index is now above 1, but the epidemiologist Manuel Carmo Gomes considers that we already know enough to not let the situation go out of control. The next autumn should not be like that of 2020. At this moment, according to the expert “the only resource we have, besides vaccination, is testing”. For this specialist, the current “transmission engines” are young adults between 20 and 29 years old.
The results of the self-tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus can now all be reported on an electronic platform, using a specific form, even the positive and inconclusive ones, which until now were communicated through the SNS24 Line, announced the Ricardo Jorge Institute.
In the Azores islands, the Regional Government decided to ease the measures applied to municipalities at high risk of transmitting SARS-CoV-2, taking into account the evolution of vaccination, announced the regional director of Health yesterday.
The Odemira Municipality informed that it will move forward with the formal procedures so that the decision to go back in the deconfinement measures in this county can be applied.
The Portuguese Society for the Study of Obesity calls for urgent measures to curb excess weight and obesity. “We already had a huge problem to which this new problem has added during the pandemic”, points out Paula Freitas, president of the entity. Obesity is known to be one of the risk factors when someone gets infected.
PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament yesterday reached a political agreement on the health certificate to facilitate free movement in the EU in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, just in time to save the summer season. In this context, the European Commission is available to mobilize 100 million euros for performing PCR tests.
The president of the Global Alliance for Vaccines, José Manuel Durão Barroso, defended “more ambition” by world leaders in combating the pandemic, stressing that its economic cost “is much higher” than that of vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics.
The European Commission President Von der Leyen and the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi today opened the G20 meeting, announcing that the EU will donate 100 million doses of vaccines to countries with the lowest development rates.
In several cities in the United Kingdom, door-to-door tests are being carried out and additional PCR tests are being distributed, which are considered more reliable and make it possible to sequence the virus genome, following the growth of the Indian variant.
France will anticipate vaccination for all healthy people over 18 years old to May 31st, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced yesterday. “Health indicators continue to improve”, he said, adding that the announcement implies “a sharp acceleration of the mass immunization program”.
The Japanese government approved the use of vaccines from Moderna and AstraZeneca, a decision that should speed up vaccination in the country, where only 5% of the population received at least one dose so far. The number of vaccines authorized in Japan thus rises to three, adding to that of Pfizer.
President Alberto Fernández announced yesterday the return to confinement in Argentina to contain the second wave, by the time this is the country with the most daily deaths per million inhabitants. “Argentina is experiencing the worst moment since the pandemic began”, he warned.
India has recorded 4,209 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, once again exceeding 4,000 daily deaths. The country also accounted for 259,551 new infections.
Vaccination has slowed down in Africa due to the suspension of supply from India, a “critical” situation that will cause “significant delays” in the continent’s immunization, warned the African Union and the World Health Organization (WHO). On the African continent, almost half of coronavirus patients admitted to intensive care units end up dying, according to data from a study of more than 3,000 patients from 64 hospitals in ten African countries.
Seychelles, which has already vaccinated more than 70% of the population, is studying the possibility of administering additional doses of the vaccines in August. The country has seen an increase in the number of cases of infection and it is only now that the outbreak shows signs of calming down.
The European Commission expects to have three “safe and effective” drugs for use against COVID-19 approved by October, as a complement to the current vaccination process, which may include dose boosters in the coming years.
European commissioner Stella Kyriakides stressed that “the virus will continue” in the community and that this circumstance requires the Member States to develop “other safe therapies” for European citizens.
ALS Life Sciences Portugal announced today the launch of a new “in vitro” diagnostic kit for COVID-19, which allows the detection of all known variants of SARS-CoV-2, “including the British, Brazilian, and South African variants, without cross-reacting with other known related viruses or common respiratory pathogens”.
The Finance Minister admitted that the Portuguese GDP could grow to a percentage point above the expected 4%, due to a “very rapid” change in economic conditions.
João Leão considered that the end of the bank default, scheduled for September, should not be received with “drama”. His Irish counterpart and also president of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe, acknowledged that “there may be challenges” in terms of “bad loans and bank risks”.
At the same time, the Government today presented a plan to reactivate the tourism sector. It is focused on supporting companies, promoting security, generating business, and building the future.
On the occasion, Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira announced that IVAucher (a scheme that returns part of the VAT amount in vouchers to be used in restaurants and hotels) will be launched on June 1st.
In turn, the Minister for Cohesion calls for an articulation between the strategy for tourism and the needs of the national territory. Ana Abrunhosa affirmed that the objective of the country and the Government is “to build the future from tourism”.
Meanwhile, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa warns of a lack of preparation for the European “bazooka”. Money coming from the Recovery and Resilience Program and Portugal 2030 is almost here, but preparations for its application must be made in advance. The President of the Republic added that the Coordination and Regional Development Commissions have access to essential information for the execution of the millions that come from Brussels.
The Lisbon Stock Exchange continued, in the middle of today’s session, on the negative ground, reversing the trend of openness and in the opposite direction of European counterparts.
The PSI-20 was down 0.20%. Among the main European markets, the German DAX gained 0.12%, the French CAC 40 rose 0.47%, the Spanish IBEX 35 rose 0.49%. The British FTSE 100 was down 0.07%.