The weekend’s Covid bulletins showed a sudden spike in the number of new cases in the Algarve – a situation due to an outbreak of infections in Albufeira among immigrant agricultural workers from India and Nepal.
The situation is “being accompanied, is limited and controlled”, said a source for regional health authority ARS Algarve, making the point that these workers are legal, have work contracts and ‘conditions of residence’ (unlike those in Odemira).
The municipality has also made available two pre-fabricated units for housing if the need arises.
For now the 45 workers are asymptomatic and in prophylactic isolation, separated from colleagues who have tested negative.
But another situation is looming in Montijo, where as many as 2,000 immigrant agricultural workers live in the parish of Pegões – the majority of them in overcrowded houses “without conditions of hygiene”.
Parish council president António Miguens has told reporters: “We don’t want to become another Odemira. We have alerted authorities to the conditions of these people. There have been some outbreaks of Covid-19, and we’re worried we’ll be next for a sanitary cordon (of the type implemented in Odemira’s parishes of São Teotónio and Longueira/Almograve).
“Insecurity is another problem”, writes Correio da Manhã. “There was recently a fight between Pakistanis in which several people were injured”.
Again, the rents in these overcrowded houses appear to be in the region of around €100-€135 per room – another indication that these people are being hideously exploited in plain sight.
For these issues to come as the government celebrated ‘a Social Summit’ in great pomp and circumstance in Porto – ostensibly aimed reducing poverty throughout Europe and ensuring people have decent lives and jobs – shows just how far social welfare in Portugal still has to go.
As SIC television news’ reporter said of the house she and her colleagues found in Pegões, in which 16 men lives in appalling conditions: “You would think a place like this would be isolated, far from the eyes of people. But it is in one of the main streets of Pegões”.