Friday, April 1st | COVID-19 Daily Update
The Portuguese General Directorate of Health (DGS) epidemiological bulletin indicates that in the last 24 hours 592 new cases of COVID-19 infection and 11 more deaths were registered in Portugal.
According to the data advanced today, there are now 822,314 confirmed cases and 16,859 deaths in the country.
As for the people who recovered from the disease, 702 were registered, which increases the total number of recovered people to 778,912.
PANDEMIC IN PORTUGAL
The Ministers’ Council held another meeting today to decide on the restrictions to be adopted to keep the pandemic under control.
António Costa’s executive will assess the evolution of the pandemic in Portugal to decide if we can move on to the second phase of the four-stage restriction relief plan that the prime minister classified as “step-by-step”.
Yesterday the National Parliament approved the PSD party bill that renews the mandatory use of masks in public spaces for another 70 days, a measure that has been in force in Portugal since the 28th of October and which would end on the 5th of April. The bill provides for fines between 100 and 500 euros for defaulters.
The centres for rapid vaccination against COVID-19 will open on the 11th, but will not start operating until the beginning of next month.
In the coming weeks, nurses will have to be hired to guarantee the opening of these centres.
The president of the Portuguese Guild of Nurses, Ana Rita Cavaco, assured today that “there will be no difficulties in hiring nurses for vaccination” against COVID-19, given the availability of at least 9,366 professionals for the massive vaccination process.
On the other hand, it was known that the SNS24 HelpLine answered more than 1.6 million calls in the first three months of this year, more than double the number verified in the same period in 2020.
At this moment, the line is issuing requests to the contacts of low risk, “a relatively recent change that came in response to the new strategy concerning testing” to COVID-19, as explained by the President of Shared Services of the Ministry of Health, Luís Goes Pinheiro.
PANDEMIC IN EUROPE AND THE WORLD
The World Health Organization (WHO) today criticized the “unacceptable” slowness of vaccination against COVID-19 in Europe, which faces the “most worrying” epidemic situation in “months”.
The director of WHO Europe, Hans Kluge, was clear in saying: “We need to speed up the process by increasing production, reducing barriers to delivery of the vaccine and using any dose we have in stock”.
Also this Thursday it was announced that the European Union ended the first quarter of the vaccination campaign without meeting the targets it had set.
Brussels had predicted that by the end of March 80% of the population over 80 years of age and 80% of health professionals would be vaccinated.
The European Commission also warns that there will be no export of vaccines from AstraZeneca to the United Kingdom until the pharmaceutical company’s commitment to the 27 member states is fulfilled.
France yesterday announced the extension of the restrictions defined for the most affected areas to the whole country. According to the French President, Emmanuel Macron, schools will be closed for three weeks.
Spain recorded 8,534 cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infected people in the country to 3,284,353 so far, on a day when contagions rose again to a value considered of high risk.
Across the Atlantic, a “human error” in mixing Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine ingredients at a plant in Baltimore, USA, made 15 million doses to be discarded. The company was forced to suspend production in the country.
Brazil, which is going through its most critical moment in the pandemic, totalling 317,646 deaths and 12,658,109 diagnoses of infection since the first case was registered in the country, yesterday approved the emergency use of Janssen’s single-dose vaccine.
The Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines are “effective” against COVID-19, according to the WHO.
According to the Strategic Advisory Group, the aforementioned vaccine manufacturers presented data that indicate levels of effectiveness compatible with those required. “The information that the companies shared at the meeting clearly indicates that they have levels of effectiveness that would be compatible with the requirements that WHO has requested for this vaccine,” said director Alejandro Cravioto.
In turn, clinical trials suggest that the side effects of COVID-19 are generally more pronounced among women and young adults, especially after the second dose.
According to a Business Insider news article, the most common side effect of Pfizer (84%), Moderna (92%), and Johnson & Johnson (49%) vaccines is pain or swelling at the injection point. Other common effects include fatigue, headache, and pain in the body or muscles.
After the Government announced that “law is law” and that it will go to the Constitutional Court to stop the reinforcement of social support, the President of the Republic came to put an end to the controversy.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa wants the Government and the opposition to reach a political commitment that will guarantee the viability of, at least, the next two State Budgets.
For Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, this is an indispensable condition for the country to take advantage of the Recovery and Resilience Plan and recover from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
As for public debt, it increased to 274.1 billion euros in February, a new historic high, reveal data from Banco de Portugal. The evolution represents a jump of 4.2 billion euros compared to January.
For its part, the Public Finance Council is more pessimistic about the behaviour of the Portuguese economy this year, although it expects a stronger recovery in 2022, driven by private consumption and exports. The institution chaired by Nazaré da Costa Cabral projects a GDP expansion of 3.3% this year, below the 4.8% previously forecast.
The Portuguese stock exchange was trading this morning on positive ground, in line with the main European counterparts.
The PSI-20 advanced 0.16%, to 4,937.63 points, while, among the main European markets, the German DAX gained 0.30%, the British FTSE 100 added 0.28%, the French CAC 40 rose 0.10% and the Spanish Ibex 35 yielded 0.20%. In the foreign exchange market, the euro appreciated 0.12% against the dollar, to 1.1742 dollars.
As for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, it closed higher today, with the main index, the Nikkei, gaining 0.72% to 29,388.87 points. The second indicator, Topix, rose 0.19% to 1,957.64 points.