“Everything depends on the next few weeks”: Portugal’s president appeals to the nation

“We need to act fast and drastically”. President Marcelo has given another of his brief, succinct and dramatic addresses to the nation that have peppered Portugal’s experiences so far with Covid-19.

This evening in the 8pm news bulletins, he said: “This is the toughest period of the pandemic. We have the highest numbers in Europe. The British variant is responsible for 50% of cases in the Greater Lisbon area. Pressure on the hospitals is extreme, the number of deaths has been skyrocketing over the last few months at an unimaginable rate”.

But just as worrying is the growth of the feelings that ‘the virus doesn’t exist’, the it’s not so serious; that a State of Emergency isn’t even required.

Not only is this feeling wrong, it does nothing to resolve the ‘multiplication of deaths’, the endless queues waiting outside hospitals for admission, the asphyxiation of intensive care units, and the suffering of all patients – those with Covid, and those with other issues.

For the nation’s president who ‘returned’ to Belém only a few days ago after the most surreal elections in Portugal’s history “what is really important now in these most dramatic and difficult moments is to not lose focus, the capacity to resist, to get back and act”.

With Portugal in the situation that it is, citizens need to be “more strict, more rigorous, more firm… what we do between now and March will define the next few months”.

It will define the spring, the summer “and who knows, the autumn. Everything depends on the next few weeks”.

As to the nuts and bolts of the latest State of Emergency, Marcelo basically said the country has to be prepared for confinement through February and into March; for a long period of distance learning for schools, for frontier controls and a reduction in any kind of travel.

Will we manage it, he queried, “of course we will”. But it’s the moment to pull together as a nation “more, and better”.

And that was today’s message after 10 months in which the 72-year-old head of State has been encouraging citizens forwards, with the effort of doing so really beginning to show.

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