Photo: ANNA SHVETS/PEXELS.COM Caption news feat A.

Covid-19 update: from bad to encouraging news

There is some really bad news, some sort-of bad news and some maybe encouraging news.

Let’s start with the really bad and work our way through to the more encouraging stuff.

In Europe, most countries got significantly worse in the past week in terms of incidence (reported cases per 100K population in the past 14 days). Denmark (2,900), the UK (2,065), Ireland (1,993), Switzerland (1,531), France (1,469), Spain (1,425), Netherlands (1,042) and, sadly, now Portugal (1,014) are all “extremely high risk” and all, except the Netherlands, increased significantly since my last report (Incidence by Country).

However (and here is a bit of better news), Austria and Belgium (both were basket cases just a few weeks ago) and Germany continued their strong recovery after relatively brief but very strong spikes. Austria is down from 1,992 five weeks ago to 370 now, Belgium from 2,099 three weeks ago to 813 and Germany from 948 three weeks ago to 507. If these three countries are typical, then recovery seems to come fairly quickly after peak incidence.

Mainland Portugal practically doubled its incidence of the virus in the past week, as Omicron made itself felt. The Lisbon and North regions were particularly hard hit, although incidence increased in all five mainland regions (Incidence Portugal Regions). The Algarve actually had the smallest increase, moving from 978 last week to just 1,031 the seven days ending December 29. The “R” factor, which measures transmissibility, has surged up to 1.3, from 1.07 a week ago. Anything over 1 is not good.

Within the Algarve, four concelhos are “extremely high risk” – São Brás, Faro, Castro Marim and Loulé. All the other boroughs except Alcoutim are “very high risk” (Incidence 16 Algarve Concelhos).

There have been 2,434 new COVID-19 cases reported in the Algarve in the past 7 days. This is significantly more than the peak of the summer spike in mid-July and is rapidly approaching levels not seen since the major spike in January, the peak of which was 2,673 cases in the seven days ending January 27.

The opinion is growing much stronger that an Omicron infection is not as serious as that of Delta – if you are fully vaccinated and boosted. In fact, while you can still be infected, the chances seem to be that you won’t even notice it. Speaking of vaccinations and boosters, Portugal has fully vaccinated 89% of its total population, with the vast majority of the yet-to-be vaccinated being small children. Of those fully vaccinated, 30% have received their booster. By age group:

80+ 87% have been boosted
70-79 85%
60-69 56%
50-59 18%

Now some personal travel info. On Monday, Helga and I flew BA to London. We had our walk-thru pre-flight lateral flow test at the Algarve Stadium on Sunday and had the results on our phones within 90 minutes. We had to complete pre-flight passenger locator forms, which included the details of our order of Day 2 post arrival PCR tests, which we ordered from Randox. Our flight was hassle-free. The only people interested in our documents were the BA check-in staff. Both Faro and Heathrow Terminal 5 airports were virtually empty. Our plane was 40% full. We took our Day 2 PCR tests this morning – we have to quarantine at home until we get a negative which, hopefully, will be tomorrow morning.

Although the UK has seen incidence soar, and London is the highest in the UK, there seem to be a lot of people on the streets and in the shops who are not masking, and Boris has not instituted any draconian safety measures. The success, or not, of this policy remains to be seen.

Just because you have been boosted, please don’t get complacent. The pandemic has not disappeared – just the opposite. And even if you get COVID-19, your case might be moderate, but you do not want to test that proposition!

Stay safe.

Larry Hampton
January 29, 2021