Crushing numbers, a new maximum in deaths as Portugal faces first day of  lockdown

Numbers of new infections have again come through at over 10,600 in the last 24-hour period, with a new maximum in the daily number of deaths (+159) and another 192 people admitted into struggling hospitals.

Day one of the new national lockdown and the country’s pandemic panorama remains as excruciatingly bleak as it has been for weeks.

Yet bizarrely Público reports that in the big city centres – the areas most affected by Covid-19 – Friday January 15 began as busy as ever.

“Walking down Avenida Almirante Reis, one of the principal thoroughfares of the capital, the noise of cars and their horns makes one think it is a normal day”, writes reporter Cristiana Faria Moreira. “There are queues for the cafés (serving take-aways) and for the kiosks, because there are those who don’t want to delay trying their luck” (with lottery tickets and scratch cards…)

Kiosk worker Berta Rodrigues told the paper: “I think people have all forgotten…”

The general feeling among citizens is that this confinement “is less rigorous than the first” because more services are open. 

According to Berta Nunes, back in March, the cafés in Lisbon were all closed. “Now they are almost all open…” she told Público.

The paper also highlights the number of people in the busy streets with either no mask or a masks “badly placed” (ie leaving space to breathe freely).

In more rural areas, the picture is very different – and this evening, national television will without doubt be focusing yet again on the ‘dire numbers’: 65 deaths in the Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo area alone; 35 in the north, 34 in the centre, 15 in the Alentejo and 10 in the Algarve.

Reporters have long since stopped reminding people that every day in Portugal (in any year) an average of 250-300 people die.

So what could be seen as the ‘good news’ in today’s ‘Covid bulletin’. There is some: the number of people deemed to have recovered has far exceeded the number of new infections.

Thus although 10, 663 new infections were ‘registered’, only 4,046 were added to the active case load – which has actually reduced since yesterday – because 6,458 people have ‘recovered’.

It’s an almost demented form of swings and roundabouts, but this is the first time since early in the week that new infections have not got the better of the numbers of people recovering.

And while most reports concentrate on how many confirmed cases Portugal has had since the start of the pandemic (528,469), it could be good for one’s sanity to see that of these 394,065 have recovered, with 125,861 currently infected, of which 4,560 are in hospital.

For today’s bulletin in full click here

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