Algarve municipalities lead way when it comes to ‘virus incidence’: nationally situation slowly improves

Municipalities in the Algarve are among those with ‘sky high’ (or “extremely high risk”) incidence levels of SARS-CoV-2 (not to be confused with people who are actually ill).

Lagos and Albufeira have the ‘highest numbers’ – 1,163 cases per 100,000 and 1,128 cases per 100,000 respectively -, followed by Portimão (862), Vila do Bispo (719), Loulé (627), Faro (559), Lagoa (536), all in the grouping classified as ‘very high risk’.

Silves, with 370 cases per 100,000 is considered ‘high risk’, along with São Brás de Alportel (366), Tavira (354), Olhão (344) and Vila Real de Santo António (263).

Numbers coming in after that are in municipalities where the risk is considered to be ‘moderate’ (ie between 120 – 240 cases per 100,000): these are Aljezur, Alcoutim and Castro Marim, or municipalities where the risk is even lower than moderate, which is the case of Monchique.

In other words, the country’s premier tourist region has been affected by the influx of summer visitors: the more popular the destination, the higher generally are levels of incidence.

But the increase in comparison with the rest of the country (the Algarve’s overall level of incidence is 635 cases per 100,000 while nationally it is only 294 cases per 100,000) has not been reflected in terms of hospital admissions/ serious illness.

Indeed throughout the country hospital admissions/ serious illness appear to be showing what has been classified as “a stable-to-decreasing tendency”.

Public health institute Dr Ricardo Jorge (INSA) has nonetheless reported a new ‘conundrum’, as explained by SOL online: “the Covid-19 pandemic in Portugal has a ‘stable-to-decreasing’ tendency, but cases in the age group of 65 or over show a ‘stable-to-increasing’ tendency”.

This means that the age group that has the most number of vaccinated people nationally (data suggests roughly 99% of over 60s are fully-vaccinated) is showing an increase in incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

As many people have started saying: “This is all getting too confusing…” But the situation is borne out by what has been happening in Israel, where many citizens now have had three jabs yet are no longer welcomed in Europe due to spiralling case numbers (click here).

Otherwise, the Rt (transmission) number nationally is at 0.96 – also showing a “stable-to-decreasing” tendency – although it is on 1 or just above in areas of the north and centre.

“A CONSTELLATION OF MUTATIONS CAPABLE OF ESCAPING IMMUNITY”

This was the unfortunate announcement by the World Health Organisation earlier this week – ensuring that no-one can take much comfort in anything.

With the Delta variant already posing challenges to the long-term effectiveness of current vaccines, the message now is that there is ‘MU’, with its ‘constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape”.

Specialists warned as much only a week or so ago in their ‘plan’ for the autumn/ winter in Portugal (click here).

For now, only 24 cases of the MU variant have been detected in Portugal – and again it has been classified as showing a ‘decreasing tendency’ in terms of expression.

DGS health bulletins giving daily Covid data can be found here.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com