PHOTO: MÁRIO CRUZ/LUSA

Active case count in Portugal increases for first time in 18 days

The significance of concern over Portugal’s Rt has come clear today as the active case count has increased following 18 days in which it steadily reduced.

The Friday bulletin shows an increase in new cases across the board –  not a massive increase, but considering six more patients have been admitted into intensive care, it’s a sign that more  could follow.

With the vaccine roll-out buffeted and battered from another week of abysmal publicity, it’s ‘not a good day’ for results.

The Rt number has increased minutely (by 0.01 to 1.02) and thus the first weekend of this second phase of deconfinement arrives with a unwelcome dollop of cold comfort. This may be the first time we are allowed out of our boroughs for weeks on a Saturday and Sunday, but for how long no-one can hazard a guess.

The news that authorities will be ‘cracking down’ on sanitary rigor at every turn has also dented the feeling that spring ‘a new beginning’ could be in the air. It all feels too threatening.

Taking it from the top, today’s DGS report shows 25,900 people have now tested positive for Covid-19. Of these 486 are in Covid wards in hospitals, and 128 are in intensive care units.

Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo continues to be the region with the most cases (but this perhaps isn’t surprising considering the demographics) +234, 2 deaths. Then comes the north – +220, also 2 deaths; the centre – +69, no deaths; the Algarve – +73, one death; the Alentejo – + 37, no deaths; Azores – + 36, no deaths; Madeira – +25, no deaths.

The five ‘new deaths’ bring the nation’s total since the start of the pandemic to 16,904. This remains 2% of the total number of the 826,327 people who have ostensibly contracted the virus in the same time frame (although many of these will have shown no symptoms at all).

The total number of new cases today (+690) superceded the total number of recoveries in the last 24-hours (+628). Again not by a huge number, but enough to put authorities further on their guard.

The one ‘good detail’ to hold onto is that incidence levels nationally and on the mainland remain well within the recommended guidelines. They are 65.7 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for Portuguese territory as a whole (ie including Madeira and Azores); 63.8 cases per 100,000 for the mainland. The government’s red line cut off point’ (the point at which deconfinement measures would halt, or even go into reverse) is 120 cases per 100,000.

WHICH BOROUGHS REMAIN AT RISK OF ‘PARTICULAR MEASURES’ 

There are now 29 boroughs where incidence numbers are above the ‘red lines’ set by authorities.

They are Alandroal, Albufeira, Almeirim, Barrancos, Beja, Carregal do Sal, Figueira de Foz, Lagoa, Machico (Madeira), Marinha Grande, Miranda do Corvo, Moura, Nordeste (Azores: São Miguel island), Odemira, Paços de Ferreira, Penalva do Castelo, Ponta Delgada (Azores: São Miguel island), Portimão, Porto do Mós, Porto Moniz (Madeira), Ribeira de Pena, Rio Maior, Santa Cruz (Azores: Flores island), Santana (Madeira), Vila do Bispo, Vila Franca de Xira, Vila Franca do Campo (Azores: São Miguel island), Vimioso.

This means ‘particular measures’ may be brought in affecting the deconfinement due to go forwards from April 19.

For now, extra policing of the areas is going ahead.

In the Algarve, the ‘at risk’ boroughs remain as they were last week: Portimão being the borough with the highest number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants (317), which puts it in the ‘very elevated’ risk category.

Elsewhere Albufeira, Lagoa and Vila do Bispo remain in the slightly lower risk categories of between 120-239.9 cases per 100,000. Exact numbers are Albufeira – 159 cases per 100,000; Lagoa – 180; Vila do Bispo – 175.

The issue with all these numbers – and the other boroughs up and down the country and in Madeira and Azores – is that any measures brought in to further ‘combat’ the risks of spread of infection may be extended to neighbouring boroughs. 

And in the case of the Algarve, this will mean half the region blighted by the poor results of just four boroughs (click here).

For now, it is a ‘waiting game’. No decisions are likely to announced on these numbers before next week.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com