Experts warn: “Everyday in Portugal our virus forecasts are exceeded…”

Wednesday January 20 has seen another ‘record’ set in Covid deaths within a 24-hour period, as well as in the number new cases.

Deaths today were of 219 patients (one more than yesterday’s ‘record’) while new case numbers are up by roughly 4,000 to 14,647.

Experts are warning this is nowhere near the end of Portugal’s devastating 3rd wave: deaths will continue to increase into February, with the number of new cases rising into the 16,000s, even 17,000s.

“Every day our forecasts are exceeded”, mathematician Henrique Oliveira has told SIC, adding his voice to the rising cacophony of calls that the nation’s schools must be closed, and fast.

Indeed, today’s bulletin shows how starkly the situation has deteriorated. Yesterday, it was only Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo with a new case count in the 5000s, today it is the north as well.

Numbers everywhere are up (click here). Hospital admissions have increased by 202 people, with 11 more in intensive care units that are already running at overload capacity.

It’s a ‘calamitous situation’, stresses Henrique Oliveira, which he hopes the government will address in earnest once the presidential elections on Sunday are finally over.

Henrique Oliveira’s ‘solution’ is a ‘general confinement’, suggesting experts still see the country’s lockdown measures as insufficient to make necessary headway.

“Not taking decisions quickly is condemning thousands of people to death”, Oliveira told SIC.

Scientists are also worried about the British variant, says the news channel. If it spreads as rapidly as it seems to be spreading, it will affect negatively affect their forecasts.

One positive note, however, is that tests of volunteers appear to show that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is still effective against the British and indeed South African variants. These tests have not yet been confirmed by experts – nor have they included research into the vaccine efficacy against the Brazilian variant. But on a day where yet again headlines are proclaiming ‘the worst day in Portugal’ since the start of the pandemic, it is something to hold onto.

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