Covid-19 State of Emergency updates: Final data


Saturday May 2:

  • Today is the last day for Portugal’s State of Emergency declared to face-up to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is much too early to say the strategy has worked – as anything could happen once strict lockdown measures start to be lifted (click here), but so far, so good. The SNS health service has not been overwhelmed, and the country’s death toll in comparison to many other countries has been low and made up in the main of the over-75s already troubled by serious health issues.
  • Portugal’s latest figures can be seen here and here :16 people died in the last 24-hour period, an increase of 1.5% on figures for the day before. Numbers being treated in hospital continue to fall, with the tally of those considered recovered now standing at 1,671.
  • The way ahead now will be constantly monitored by DGS health authorities which have stressed the official ‘mantra’: we are all in this together, and success depends on each and every one of us taking care to protect ourselves and therefore others from the ever-present threat of infection.

Friday May 1:

  • With only one more day to go for Portugal’s State of Emergency, health officials are seemingly much more certain these days of what Covid-19 means for the population in general. Said health minister Marta Temido today, tomorrow signals two months since the first case of the new coronavirus was confirmed on national soil. “The scenario of the illness over these two months have allowed us to conclude that this is a very contagious illness, with light symptoms in 86% of those who become infected. There is a relatively reduced number of patients requiring hospital treatment, from 5% (in general wards) to less than 1% in intensive care. The majority of deaths are in people over the age of 75 with chronic illness” or indeed illnesses.
  • Data as of midnight last night can be seen here and here. There have been a further 18 deaths – 13 of them in people over the age of 80 – taking the total number since the start of the outbreak to 1,007. Of this 1,007, 878 were over the age of 70.
  • Also today reports in the UK have been highlighting the “alarming obesity link” when it comes to fatalities. Brutal as it sounds, fat people are much more likely to develop serious problems after contracting Covid-19 than slim people. Possibly to his personal dismay, British prime minister Boris Johnson has been used as an example of this ‘link’. Says the Times, “slimmer” members of the cabinet who contracted the virus at the same time as Mr Johnson “recovered much more quickly and were not hospitalised”. Fat people also “seem to spread the virus for much longer”, cardiologist Aseem Malhotra told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. It’s a detail described very much as “the elephant in the room” – bearing in mind the world has become so politically correct that comments on people’s size are seen as rude, when in fact they may (as in this case) be very necessary to wake potential victims up to the fact that they could be playing Russian roulette with their chances for survival.

Thursday April 30:

  • Portugal’s epidemic is ‘on the decline’, DGS health director Graça Freitas asserted at the daily press briefing that reported, yet again, that numbers are looking suddenly a great deal better. Latest figures can be seen here and here: there have been another 16 deaths in the last 24-period – an increase of 1.6%, and a further 545 infections flagged via testing (an increase of 2.2%). Understanding now is that the country will never reach a point where no one dies, or no further infections are registered. To do so would involve a complete and total shutdown, with no one allowed for weeks: an impossibility, in other words. Recoveries are up again, from 1.470 reported yesterday to 1.519 today – and the list of patients in hospital is slowly reducing. Of the most recent deaths, all but one were registered in patients aged over 70 and 80.
  • The ‘rare’ but worrying increase in cases of Kawasaki Syndrome being registered in children in other parts of the world (and in areas where the virus is causing high number of casualties) is not an issue in Portugal, though one case that may be Kawasaki Syndrome has been flagged though Graça Freitas did not explain where. The health director said the situation was ‘completely normal’ in that these incidences of what is a serious inflammatory disorder do appear from time to time. More investigation has to go forwards to establish whether the case is indeed Kawasaki Syndrome, and whether it can be linked to the new coronavirus.
  • Almost at the end of six weeks in lockdown, Portugal has registered just 973 deaths with 24,505 people confirmed as infected. Scientific thinking is that the true picture of people who have been infected may be five times that figure, which is still unfortunately only a fraction of the 10-plus million inhabitants. Comparing Portugal however with other countries of a similar size, like Sweden for example – which has not implemented any kind of lockdown but is paying heed to some form of social distancing – deaths are on the low side. A good place to check data to make global comparisons is here
  • Meantime, the President of Slovenia Borut Pahor has recorded a message of solidarity for Portugal, in Portuguese, in which he talks of Slovenia’s “profound admiration” for the determination, courage and hope with which Portugal has faced this crisis. “Vai ficar tudo bem”, he concludes (the Portuguese for ‘everything will be all right’).

Wednesday April 29:

  • Latest figures can be seen here and here. There have been 25 further deaths in the last 24-hour period (17 in patients over the age of 80, four in patients over 70, 3 in patients aged between 60-69 and one in a patient aged between 50-59) and 183 further infections flagged – an increase of 0.8%. With numbers being treated in hospital continuing to fall, the number of people now considered ‘cured’ has risen to 1,470. In percentage terms, the over-70s and 80s represent 76% of the deaths in Portugal so far attributed to the new coronavirus. But when it comes to age groups, people in their 50s (between 50 – 59) are those who have most contracted the virus. To date, the number of people in their 50s found to be positive for Covid-19 totals 4,136 as opposed to 3,836 people in their 80s and 2,189 in their 70s.
  • Messages today continue to be that parents must not let their children fall behind with regard to the national vaccination programme. Said DGS director of health Graça Freitas: “We need to prevent other epidemics“, which could follow if children became vulnerable to some of the more potentially dangerous childhood diseases.
  • Today has seen a disinfection programme get underway with the help of the Armed Forces in schools, in readiness for a partial return of 11th and 12th year pupils in May. Reports however have stressed that some parents are still very concerned about the their children returning, and have intimated they are unwilling to comply.

Tuesday April 28:

  • Latest figures can be seen here and here. There have been a further 20 deaths in the last 24-hours (13 in patients over the age of 80; 3 of patients between the ages of 70-79; 3 of patients in their 60s and 1 of a patient aged between 50-59). The country now has a total of 23,422 people who have been registered as having contracted the virus (1,389 of which have recovered). A total of 948 have lost their lives (in percentage terms over 67% of these deaths have been in the over-80s): 936 people continue in hospital (59 less than yesterday) with 172 in intensive care units (four less than yesterday). The increase in the number of infections flagged through testing in the last 24-hours has been 295, which corresponds to an increase of 1.2%.
  • Today’s press briefing saw questions on whether the country would indeed be opening up by regions (click here) and whether there would be specific instructions for the over-70s. Journalists were told these answers will only come on Thursday following the Council of Ministers.

Monday April 27:

  • Latest figures can be seen here and here. There have been a further 25 deaths in the last 24-hour period and 163 people testing positive for the new coronavirus, which is the lowest percentage increase since the start of Portugal’s outbreak.
  • The message at the press briefing today was that Portugal is preparing for a ‘return to everyday SNS health authority business’ at the same time as the possibility of a second wave of the virus, to start hitting once the country has been allowed to return to work.
  • Health secretary António Lacerda Sales said right now the country’s intensive care units are working at 57% capacity.
  • Numbers given today show that of the 928 deaths from Covid-19 in Portugal, 628 of them have been in elderly people over the age of 80. In other words, 67.67% of the deaths were in the over-80s.
  • This translates into the fact that measures protecting inmates of the country’s old people’s homes cannot be lifted, no matter how much relatives may be frustrated at not being able to visit loved-ones.

Sunday April 26:

  • The latest official numbers can be seen here and here. Over the last 24-hour period analysed (up to midnight on April 25), 23 people have died which is one of the lowest 24-hour totals for days, and the lowest percentage increase on totals for a day since the start of the outbreak (just 2.6%). The number of people being treated in hospital is also down (to 1,005 people – a drop of 3.4% compared to the day before), which translates into the least number of patients in hospital since the start of this month. Patients in intensive care have also dropped for the eighth consecutive day, while recoveries continue to climb. Increase in the number of infections has also come down to a level of just 2%, which Expresso stresses again is the lowest percentage since this outbreak started being monitored.
  • Nonetheless, the message from authorities is that this battle is far from over and we all have to continue adhering to all the measures in place. When it comes to areas worst affected, the North and Lisbon and Vale do Tejo are regions where infections are growing beyond an R0 of 1 – this is the situation where one infected person goes on to infect only one other person. Most areas of the country have an R0 below 1. The North vascillates between an R0 of 1.04 – 0.99, while the Lisbon area is still registering an R0 of 1.02. These infections are taking place within ‘cohabitational groups’, bearing in mind the country is still very much adhering to State of Emergency rules.
  • News outlets have been hinting that the government is considering the declaration of a State of Calamity, to follow on from the conclusion of the 3rd State of Emergency (on May 2) but for now there has been no official clarification of this, nor is there much explanation of what a State of Calamity would mean to citizens’ day-to-day. Further details are expected next week.

Saturday April 25:

  • The latest data for Portugal can be seen here and here. In the last 24-hour period, 26 further victims of Covid-19 have died – the vast majority in their 70s and 80s. Patients deemed to have recovered however continue to climb and are now at 1,277.
  • Marking ‘Dia da Liberdade’ – the 46th anniversary of the revolution that took Portugal out of decades of dictatorship – health minister Marta Temido announced a number of changes to the way the health service has been operating so far through the pandemic. From next week hospitals up and down the country will start slowly picking up on the thousands of delayed consultations, surgeries and other interventions that have had to take a back seat for the last few weeks. From next week also, SNS Linha Saúde will cease to refer people for virus testing. This can now return to the responsibility of doctors at local health centres. Also changing is the way patients who have recovered from the virus ‘at home’ are to be pronounced ‘cured’. Up till now, all patients had to undergo two tests within 24-hours of each other before they could be given the all-clear. Now, a single negative test will be sufficient for those who have had the virus and recovered from it at home. Patients requiring hospital treatment will still require the ‘double-testing’ before they are deemed fit, healthy and uninfectious.
  • Marta Temido spent time today recalling the ‘importance’ of Dia da Liberdade vis-a-vis the SNS health service. Indeed, she went as far as saying “April 25 is the SNS health service“, because before it Portuguese people did not have the access to health care that they have today.
  • This crisis has ‘taught’ health chiefs a lot about how to manage the service ‘in a different way’. Marta Temido said the ‘telesaúde’ practice (of telephone consultations) would continue and be ‘reinforced’, as would the issuing of ‘electronic prescriptions’.
  • All in all, this has been a “April 25 less light“, said the minister, but the only way forwards is forwards… Commemorations of the day in parliament were extremely muted, with only a fraction of the 138 MPs ‘invited’ actually taking part. Feelings remain ‘divided’ on the parliamentary ‘celebration’ – some parties saying it was totally wrong at a time when everyday citizens are confined to their homes – but the consensus is that democracy has to be ‘celebrated’ even when it has been muted by a rogue virus that scientists still do not totally understand.

Friday April 24:

  • Latest figures can be seen here and here. There have been a further 34 deaths over the last 24-hours (23 in patients over the age of 80, six in patients over the age of 70, four in patients over the age of 40, and one in a patient aged between 50-59).
  • Testing is being ‘ramped up’ thoughout the country, with a current average of over 10,700 tests being performed every day. Health secretary António Lacerda Sales stressed however that on one particular day where authorities had managed to test over 14,000 people only 7.7% of the tests proved positive for the new coronavirus. He told journalists this indicates that increasing testing does not automatically mean an increase in the number of cases. New cases for the last 24-hours number 444, which corresponds to an increase of 1.9% on figures for yesterday.
  • The number of patients currently in intensive care has dropped for the last eight days, although this still means there are 188 people battling for their lives in hospitals up and down the country.

Thursday April 23:

  • Portugal has carried out more than 302,000 tests for coronavirus since March 1 – a tally that exceeds other countries dealing with the virus, including Germany, Norway, Switzerland and Italy. The testing rate has reached 27,975 people per million inhabitants. The country now has more than 22,000 people confirmed as positive for the virus.
  • The latest figures can be consulted here and here.
  • 35 more people died in the last 24-hour period, five of them under the age of 70.
  • The number of cases increased by 1.6%.
  • Old people’s homes remain the ‘greatest concerns’ right now with new infections appearing in some cases in which no-one can understand how the virus got through all safety measures put in place.
  • The press briefing heard from journalists that some of the ventilators purchased from China have come with ‘buttons with Chinese writing on them’. Official advice was that this was not as much of an issue as it sounds as medical personnel who operate the machines are given clear instructions how to do so.

Wednesday April 22:

  • 23 deaths in the last 24-hours, with 603 further cases being registered.
  • The official DGS figures can be seen here and here.
  • Good news is that recoveries now are at 1,143, a number that seen recoveries double over the last five days.
  • The number of people being treated in hospital has fallen for the 6th consecutive day . The number of patients being treated in intensive care is also falling.
  • Health secretary António Lacerda Sales announced the launch of a new ‘video-link’ facility for calls/ inquiries from the deaf to the SNS 24-hour emergency health line (nº 808 24 24 24), backed by operators who using sign language.
  • Total deaths from Covid-19 in Portugal so far have been pegged at 785, with 21,982 people confirmed as infected.
  • Today’s press briefing heard that the online SINAVE platform on which doctors have to register cases/ deaths is “slow and obsolete” – a criticism DGS director of health Graça Freitas accepted. Authorities are doing everything they can to improve systems that were not conceived with a crisis like this in mind, she said.
  • Expresso highlights the fact that the latest deaths were in the over-70 and over-80 age ranges.

Tuesday April 21:

  • Positive news of the day is that the number of recoveries from the virus in Portugal have exceeded the number of deaths “for the first time”, health secretary António Lacerda Sales told this afternoon’s press briefing.
  • There have been 27 deaths in the last 24-hour period, 20 of them in patients over the age of 80, and a further 516 people found to have become infected.
  • The latest figures can be consulted here and here
  • This has also been the third day running, explain reports, in which less than 30 people have died in a 24-hour period.
  • Authorities nonetheless re-emphasise their warnings that no-one can let down their guard, and that parents of young children particularly must not use fear of contracting the virus to avoid following the national vaccination programme.
  • Serological testing (tests to show antibodies) started in Lisbon today as Portugal sets out to discover how many people might already have been exposed to the virus and show at least some level of immunity. Yesterday the World Health Organisation admitted that only a “tiny proportion of the global population – maybe as few as 2% or 3%” appears to have antibodies in the blood – a finding that some say “bodes ill for hopes that herd immunity will ease the exit from lockdown”.
  • On a final ‘positive note’ for today’s briefing, Expresso reports that the number of people being treated in hospital has fallen for the fifth consecutive day. (The number of people in intensive care has also reduced slightly, by two since yesterday.)
  • Reports at the end of the day announced the Alentejo’s first death. This is a region that escaped cases until quite late in Portugal’s outbreak. Sadly today an 87-year-old man died following infection. He was described as a patient with a “complex clinical situation“.

Monday April 20:

  • Latest numbers on the spread of the virus in Portugal can be seen here and here
  • 21 people died in the most recent 24-hour period, almost all of them over the age of 80 (only three were aged between 70-79).
  • The new deaths registered an increase of 2.9% on figures for Sunday.
  • New cases (657) represent an increase of 3.6%.
  • The lethality percentage for the over-70s has increased now to 12.8%, as a total of 20,873 people have been confirmed as positive for the new coronavirus – of which 87% are ‘recovering’ (if they have symptoms) at home.
  • Intensive care units in Portugal are working at 54% capacity – which is ‘good news’.
  • Also ‘good news’ today’s press briefing heard is the fact that non-Covid care continues, with the Hospital Santa Cruz in Lisbon having just successfully performed a double transplant (heart and kidney) on a 39-year-old patient.
  • Today’s focus was on how to continue to care for the country’s elderly population in old people’s homes which have been hit quite dramatically by the virus.
  • Before talking to journalist DGS health director Graça Freitas was interviewed on a morning television talk show where she insisted that anyone getting married in the forseeable future ‘must delay any kind of festivities until after a vaccine has been found, or after a cure, or after herd immunity has been reached’. She admitted that, for the time being, no-one knows when any of these scenarios will come.

Sunday April 19:

  • The latest figures can be seen here and here.
  • A further 27 deaths were recorded up to midnight last night, 20 of them in patients over the age of 80. This brings the total number of deaths in Portugal attributed to the virus so far to 714.
  • Today’s press conference heard that health authorities are performing an average of 9,800 tests per day. Of these 19,685 people have been confirmed as positive for the new coronavirus.
  • ‘Guest speaker’ today was Miguel Xavier, of the national mental health programme, who said that citizens could indeed suffer mental problems as a result of confinement, but that in his professional opinion these would be ‘short-lived’ and ‘nothing to do with mental illness’.
  • The slightly ‘mixed messages’ that the country is now receiving over the virulence of Covid-19 has seen more and more people start to emerge from lockdown which in turn has resulted in a number of them being sent back home. Said SIC television news today, “around 70 drivers” in the outlying Lisbon area of Oeiras were ordered to turn around by police today. The channel attributes people’s behaviour to what it calls “the softer discourse” coming from politicians and the health authorities themselves.
  • Nonetheless, Graça Freitas – the ‘face’ throughout this crisis of the DGS health authority – warned today’s press briefing that ‘nothing will be like it was until the disease is eradicated’, insisting people still have to remain ‘disciplined’ and obey all government/ health authority advice. Her advice was echoed by health minister Marta Temido who said: “After more than four decades of democracy and State transparency, the Portuguese people are sufficiently mature to realise that we won’t be free of the virus until the discovery of a vaccine or a cure”. Ms Temido added that if people’s behaviour is not “adequate” there will be an “upsurge in the number of cases”.
  • This far, cases are growing but in the low percentages. The increase in the last 24 hour period (by 521 new cases) represents a 2.6% increase on figures for the day before.
  • For those doubting the severity of this pandemic, the words of scientist Maria Manuel Mota interviewed at length in Expresso this weekend served to further increase a sense of discomfort with the official narrative. Ms Mota, director of the institute of Molecular Medicine which has been at the forefront of developing ‘home grown’ testing kits for Portugal, told the paper: “The Spanish flu (pandemic in 1918) was a much more dangerous virus, but it travelled by boat, and took longer to transmit. This virus travels much more quickly and is everywhere (now). Having said that it is important that people do not enter into panic: this is a relatively nice virus… it doesn’t affect children, adolescents or young adults. And the at risk groups are people over the age of 70 and/ or those with other health complications”. Accepting that the national lockdown was “very important” so that our health system did not “implode”, the 48-year-old scientist stressed now is certainly the time for a second phase where people pick up what must still be a very different kind of everyday. She told Expresso: “I am completely convinced this virus will disappear from our lives when we attain populational (herd) immunity or when there is a vaccine. But it would be very difficult and I don’t even think advisable – particularly from the economic point of view – to live this way for a year and a half waiting for a vaccine. Therefore we have to start thinking of the second phase. We have to have the notion that this is not an especially difficult virus. One that attacks any person, independent of their age, would be worse”.

Saturday April 18:

  • Day one of Portugal’s third two-week period of State of Emergency saw health minister Marta Temido stress that the way forwards now will involve ‘constant adaptation’. There will be periods of ‘reinforced containment’, and periods of ‘more relief’ as country learns to live with the new coronavirus.
  • The latest figures of the last 24-hour period can be seen here and here.
  • Deaths are ‘stable’, rising every day by roughly the same amount – the majority of which are victims over the age of 80.
  • As this pandemic develops it is becoming increasingly clear that 99% of those who contract it will survive, and over 80% of those get it will only get it lightly.
  • But for the 1% of the world’s population at risk, the virus is potentially lethal.
  • Portugal’s ‘lethality percentage’ for the over-70s has now increased to 12.5. For the unlucky admitted to hospital (currently 5.1% of those testing positive), it is 3.5%.
  • The average age of people who have died from the virus in Portugal is 81.4 years old, Marta Temido stressed today. In the centre of the country, the average age is 83.5 years old. That said, the youngest person to die of the virus in Portugal was aged just 40, while the oldest was 102.
  • “Many of those people (who have died) had various pathologies”, said the minister at today’s press briefing – ‘pathologies’ being health conditions. Some, she said, had “three, four or even more.
  • The fact that the lockdown has brought the number of people being infected by infected people down to below 1 (right now it is at 0.91) means the SNS health authority is now regrouping to start picking up on all the ‘missed appointments’ and ‘missed surgeries’ that have been caused by the pandemic.
  • Marta Temida described 300,000 doctors’ appointments, 180,000 hospital appointments and 9,000 surgeries.

Friday April 17:

  • Positive news in that there has been just a 1% increase in the number of people testing positive, as well as a slight decrease in the number of deaths (26).
  • The official figures can be seen here and here. This second ‘detailed’ map is still missing key data that it used to carry – for example the numbers of cases in each borough, and the number of deaths.
  • The increase in cases (by 117) is in fact the lowest daily increase in the last month.
  • Three more boroughs now have cases testing positive, but large swathes of the Alentejo and three boroughs in the Algarve (Aljezur, Vila do Bispo and Alcoutim) still apparently have none
  • Today’s press conference heard that the 500 ventilators which the government paid China for back in March (to the tune of €9.2 million) have still not arrived, despite assurances that they would be in Portugal by mid-April. 65 machines were however delivered to the Portuguese embassy in Beijing this week, and these should reach Portugal ‘next week’.

Thursday April 16:

  • 30 further deaths in last 24-hours, in age brackets spanning from those in their 40s to those over 80: 40-49 group: 1 death, 60-60: 1 death, 70-79: 6 deaths, over-80: 22 deaths, representing a 5% increase.
  • Numbers of infected, although rising as tests gets rolled out, is also only rising in low percentages. The latest percentage increase, to a total of 18,841 confirmed positive, represents an increase of just 4.1%.
  • Portugal’s R0, the indicator of how many people one infected person goes on to infect, is 1.
  • The numbers of patients deemed to have recovered has increased by 8.7% to 383, but the number of people admitted to hospital has spiked to its ‘3rd highest increase’ since the pandemic hit (102 new patients in the last 24-hours, bringing total numbers in hospital to 1,302).
  • Official statistics can be seen here and here, though borough information on numbers/ deaths has not been included.
  • There has also been a jump in the numbers in intensive care (10% up on figures given yesterday: tally now stands at 229 in intensive care units).
  • The north is still the region with the highest number of deaths, but Lisbon has now over taken Porto as the borough with most infected people: 996 which is 34 more than yesterday.

Wednesday April 15:

  • Positive news today: “It seems we are in a more tranquil time”, said deputy health director Diogo Cruz as the country registers another 32 dead and a further 634 positive cases.
  • Today’s updated picture can be seen here and  here
  • Portugal currently has 18.091 people testing positive for Covid-19, 1200 of which are in hospital, 208 of which are in intensive care (a reduction again on recent tallies).
  • 383 patients have been pronounced ‘recovered’
  • The latest deaths were, as has been the norm in this country’s outbreak, mainly in the over-70/ 80 age bracket.
  • It has been confirmed that a third of the total number of deaths so far (599) have been of old people living in care homes.

Tuesday April 14:

  • DGS health authority data for the last 24-hours can be seen here
  • The situation borough to borough can be seen here
  • Today’s press briefing brought up the uncomfortable question of exactitude of DGS data, and how it doesn’t tally with information coming from doctors. For example, RTP suggested the numbers in intensive care today are much higher than published (290 as opposed to 218). Answers from secretary of state António Lacerda Sales and indeed DGS health director Graça Freitas were that data collection is essentially a “very dynamic process” and yes, details can take time to ‘come through’. According to RTP data is also lacking on boroughs affected. The journalist cited the northern borough of Manteigas, where official data shows no cases, and where there are already more than five people infected there. In Monchique in the Algarve too, the official diagram shows no cases, when at least one was announced last week.
  • In general terms the number of deaths continues to vacillate between high 20s and mid 30s. The last 24-hour period has recorded 32 deaths, spread over various age-groups from the 40s upwards, but largely in the over-70s.
  • Graça Freitas’ main message today was how parents who have been delaying their children’s – and particularly babies’ – vaccinations “must” rectify this, either by calling for appointments at local health centres, or going there in person. She said it is “absolutely essential” to keep up childhood vaccinations as if not the country could face “another epidemic” during a pandemic. Vaccinations are also important for pregnant women (against whooping cough, to protect their unborn children), she said, and people with chronic conditions.
  • Roughly 10,000 tests are taking place every day, secretary of state Lacerda Sales added, and the ‘good news’ here is that the increase in the number of tests hasn’t seen much in the way of a percentage increase in the number of positive cases.
  • Nonetheless, Portugal’s number of infected increases by the day, albeit in ‘low percentages’. The current figure of 17,448 cases represents an increase of 3% on numbers announced yesterday.

Monday April 13:

  • A new ruling is likely to come today on the use of community masks. Health minister Marta Temido told today’s press briefing on latest numbers that these masks differ from ‘surgical masks’ and ‘respirators’. They are more focused on ‘the public’, to be used in confined spaces where there are a number of other people: in other words, shops, Post Offices, banks etc. This change in DGS health authority thinking has been slow in developing. Initially the country was told that masks offered no added protection. Indeed they could be counter-productive if used incorrectly, said health director Graça Freitas.
  • The latest figures on the spread of the virus can be seen here
  • Further detail is supplied here
  • The good news is that infections grew at their lowest percentage rate since the start of the pandemic – just 2.1%. This has to be set against the fact that less testing has been taking place due to a lack of equipment.
  • Deaths from one day to the other increased by another 31 of which the majority were patients over the age of 80.
  • The number of patients in intensive care has dropped also (to 188).
  • 88.2% of the 16,934 positive cases are being treated at home.

Sunday April 12:

  • 34 deaths in the last 24-hours, representing an increase in the number of deaths (from the day before) of only 3.74%
  • global lethality percentage “up to 3%, 10.9% in over-70s”, says health minister Marta Temido
  • 16,585 people have now been confirmed as positive for the new coronavirus in Portugal
  • 88% of these people are recovering at home without recourse to hospital treatment
  • 277 people have been deemed ‘recovered’
  • 25 of yesterday’s deaths were in the over-80s: the rest in the over-70s
  • 228 people are currently in intensive care (five less than yesterday)
  • The grey area of all these figures is becoming ever more clear as Ms Temido admitted that for the time being the country has run out of testing capability. It is waiting for the necessary components which it hopes will be delivered early next week (ie possibly as soon as tomorrow, Monday)
  • The last day testing was carried out was Thursday, at which point over 11,000 tests were performed
  • Delivery of over 500 ventilators purchased from China is also delayed, due ‘changes in regulations’ in China. Hopes are that the delay will only mean another week before the equipment arrives
  • As these figures came through, European Commissioner Ursula Von der Leyen announced that self-isolation for the elderly should continue until the rest of the year, and anyone hoping to make reservations for holidays abroad this summer must wait until further data comes through. Von der Leyen told German newspaper Bild: “Right now no-one can make reliable forecasts for July and August…”
  • Following Ms Von der Leyen’s words, health minister Marta Temido admitted that some ‘measures of containment’ will have to stay in place once the country emerges from the current State of Emergency.
  • In terms of regions, it is still the north that is the most affected, followed by the Greater Lisbon area and the Centre. These are the areas with the most number of deaths as well as infections. The Alentejo and Madeira remain the only Portuguese areas that have recorded no deaths. Four people have died in the Azores, one since yesterday.
  • The overall outlook diagram can be seen here
  • More detailed figures can be found here

Saturday April 11:

  • Health minister Marta Temida was back in the hotseat today, explaining away the sudden spike in the number of infections of yesterday’s press briefing, and reporting that figures for the increase of infections over the last 24-hours now show a much lower increase (of just 3.3%) indicating that the country is actually very much on a ‘plateau’ – which cannot be misinterpreted as any kind of signal to lower our guard, but which is positive nonetheless.
  • The updated overall ‘official picture’ can be seen here
  • The updated official ‘situation report’ in further detail can be seen here
  • 35 people died in the last 24-hour period. Working from numbers registered yesterday, this suggests 18 were in the over-80 age bracket; eight in the over-70 range; 5 were over the age of 60 and four over the age of 50.
  • Some local authorities have started complaining that DGS’ figures are not correct, and that their own information is not being taken on board. The mayor of Espinho for instance has vowed to continue informing his local population “according to data obtained” by his own sources.
  • The spike in yesterday’s number of cases was explained by the health minister as a situation in which a lot of information came through on the same day…
  • Of the 15,987 people now confirmed to have been infected, DGS health director Graça Freitas has affirmed that 1849 are health professionals, of which 488 are nurses, 276 are doctors and 1085 are ‘other workers’. Ms Freitas had no figures available for the numbers of health professionals in intensive care but “revealed that they are stable”, say reports this afternoon.
  • The lethality percentage has risen for the population in general to 2.9%, while the lethality percentage for the over-70s remains at 10.6%

Friday April 10:

  • Portugal has suddenly registered the ‘worst day for an increase in infections” since this crisis started. Under secretary of health Jamila Madeira has called the situation “difficult to accept” – not explaining that it may be down to the increase in testing. That said, the total: 1,516 new cases shows what authorities keep repeating: “We cannot relax our guard”.
  • For the latest cross-country picture, click here
  • For a more detailed analysis click here
  • Numbers everywhere are ‘steadily increasing’. Anyone who has been ‘watching the news’ will see that ‘official’ statistics still differ from local ones: for example the case in the old people’s home in Monchique still doesn’t seem to appear on the more detailed map of cases per borough – but it may be that it was included in overall official figures.
  • Good news can be found in the leap in the numbers of those now deemed to have ‘recovered’ (the new total for recoveries is 233), a fall in the numbers in hospital and a drop of 15 patients from intensive care.
  • Deaths remain highest in the over-80 age bracket: of the 435 so far, 284 have been in victims over the age of 80; 92 deaths have been recorded for over-70s; 43 in over-60s; 12 in over-50s and four in the over-40s.
  • The latest increase in deaths was 25

photo António Pedro Santos/Lusa

Thursday April 9:

  • Today’s map of the situation up till midnight last night can be seen here 
  • There have been 29 further deaths, and 815 ‘new cases’: an increase of just 5% on yesterday.
  • Viewed from abroad, Portugal’s results are being seen as exemplary. See story on this to be uploaded shortly.
  • 1,173 patients are currently in hospital, of which 241 are in intensive care.
  • Cases in the Algarve have increased to 260 – only nine more than yesterday. The last death in the Algarve was of an elderly Italian resident who lived in Quarteira.
  • Cases in the Algarve have now ‘spread’ to Alferce (Monchique).
  • The only Algarve boroughs ‘free of infection’ to date are those of Vila do Bispo and Aljezur.
  • Today’s press briefing announced that 1700 people are due to be tested for a pilot-study between the end of April and beginning of March “to try and understand the first signs of immunisation within Portuguese society”.

Wednesday April 8:

  • There has been another death in the Algarve. Today’s press briefing has been backed by new figures showing a further 35 deaths in the last 24-hours (an increase of 10.1% on yesterday’s tally): one of these deaths was recorded in the Algarve.
  • The latest map showing Portugal’s situation can be seen here.
  • The more detailed map can be seen here – though since yesterday it has  stopped showing figures for deaths, so there is no clue which part of the Algarve suffered the latest fatality.
  • Talking to journalists today DGS health director Graça Freitas said that the ‘lethality percentage’ in the Algarve (3.19%) is in fact higher than elsewhere.
  • The lethality percentage for the population in general now is 2.9% (rising since yesterday). For the over-70s it has increased to 11.3%.
  • Tests are still taking their time. The press briefing heard that Portugal has the capacity to perform 11,000 tests per day, but hasn’t actually managed this. The best result so far came over a week ago when 9,100 tests were performed. Even so, the briefing heard from one journalist that people have been waiting up to nine days for the results of their tests.
  • The good news is that the number of people in intensive care has reduced dramatically, by 26 patients from yesterday.
  • More good news is that recoveries now are up to 196 patients – and that the number of new cases being confirmed remains at the low percentage of 5.6.
  • The overriding message however is that the country’s response has to “remain firm and determined”.

Tuesday April 7:

  • Latest figures from DGS health authorities point to a 6.1% increase in the number of new cases.
  • Portugal now officially has 12,442 people confirmed as infected with 99,730 suspected cases and another 4,442 awaiting test results.
  • To see the latest figures click here
  • To see further detail click here (this should show where in Algarve the new cases are though at time of writing this data will still now available).
  • The ‘bad news’ of the day is that the ‘lethality percentage’ (the number of people in every 100 patients that die) has increased to 2.8%.
  • This means deaths increased by more than double yesterday’s total (of just 16), representing an 11% day-on-day increase.
  • ‘Good news’ however is that the number of patients entering intensive care is suddenly well down. Only one new patient was admitted to intensive care yesterday.
  • Also good news is that recoveries are up by another 44 patients (meaning that in the last three days, the recovery tally has ‘almost tripled’, says Expresso).
  • Notwithstanding these positive developments, President Marcelo has stressed that there will be no let up in containment measures this month. It’s as close to saying Portugal’s State of Emergency will be renewed on April 17 as we have got.
  • President Marcelo was talking to Antena 1 radio station. His actual words were: “Right now there cannot be a decompression during the month of April. We need to know if the data of recent days is consistent; if we have reached the so-called downward plateau – and how the situation will be at the end of the month. During this renewal of the State of Emergency, the efforts of the Portuguese people are very important. They make all the difference to results”.
  • Today’s press briefing on the latest numbers stressed the importance of people maintaining measures of social distancing etc. Said Diogo Cruz, sub-director of health: “We ask for prudence. This is still an important phase and we do not know what will come tomorrow”.
  • Questions from the floor were particularly concerned with deaths in old people’s homes in the north.

Monday April 6: 

  • New figures for today can be seen in simple form here
  • And in detail here
  • There are discrepancies in numbers here and there. For example the 229 cases in the Algarve on one map do not correspond with the totals within the detailed map. But it’s almost certainly a technical hitch that will ‘catch up’ over the course of the day.
  • Infections have increased, says the data, by 4% on yesterday. This has to be weighed against the logistical issues of actually performing tests. In other words, infections are almost certainly higher.
  • Deaths though increased by less than normal: just 16 in the last 24-hours, while the number of people pronounced recovered has ‘doubled’ to 140.
  • Nevertheless the message from authorities is that measures of containment (ie the country’s lockdown and all that goes with it) are working and ‘should be maintained’, for now at least.
  • There is definitely the ‘feeling in the air’ though that the State of Emergency is easing towards some kind of ‘opening up’ in the not-too-distant future. This can be seen in the daily press briefings where almost as soon as journalists are allowed to start their questions, the news programmes move on to ‘other matters’…
  • Interesting today was the fact that for the first time in the press briefings a nutritionist was given the floor to emphasise the need for healthy eating to boost immunity.
  • The number of people who have recovered from bad cases of the virus has also ‘doubled’ in 24-hours.
  • The briefing also referred to the launch of a new initiative “Cuida de Todos Nós” seeking volunteers to help in old people’s homes. Anyone interested can apply here
  • Much was said about the new thinking on the use of face masks (click here). Indeed the medical fraternity is now said to be ‘demanding clear advice’ from the government, which says it is waiting for clear advice from the World Health Organisation.

Sunday April 5: New deaths in Algarve as infections move west

  • New DGS health authority figures released at midday show a 10.9% increase in the number of deaths in the last 24-hours, bringing the national total since January 1 to 295.
  • Of the new deaths two were registered in the Algarve. Following the ‘suspension’ of detailed daily breakdowns by regional health authority ARS Algarve it was initially unclear where the deaths were recorded or in which boroughs the victims lived. This has now been updated by central sources. The deaths were of two 80-plus year-olds in the Vila Real de Santo António area. But what is clear yesterday’s briefing is that infections are creeping westwards. There are now three cases officially recorded in Lagos – one of the few boroughs that up till now had registered no cases (see here). If one clicks on the ‘blue spots’ in each borough, it becomes clear how many cases have been flagged in each. Albufeira remains the worst affected borough with 40 cases, followed by Faro (37), Loulé (33).
  • With 29 deaths since yesterday, the ‘lethality percentage’ generally has increased to 2.6%, rising to 10.6% in the over-70s.
  • The number of people entering hospitals has also reached a new high, health minister Marta Temido explained in the lunchtime press briefing. “We need to stress that hospitals must be reserved for serious and critical cases”, she said. Everyone else must be content to weather the virus from their homes, in articulation when necessary with health authorities via LinhaSaúde24 (tel 808242424).
  • 1,084 people are currently being treated for Covid-19 in Portuguese hospitals, of which 267 are in intensive care. 
  • For the ‘map of the country’ in terms of numbers click here
  • Referring back to data published yesterday, it’s clear that the majority of deaths in the last 24 hours were in the over-80 age group (20), with three being recorded in those aged between 60-69, and six in 70-79-year-olds..
  • Lisbon is the borough with the ‘most number of confirmed cases’ (681), slightly ahead of Porto on 660. 
  • Health minister Marta Temido stressed how much new equipment – particularly ventilators and ICU monitors – has been either purchased or offered by way of donations. In the space of little more than a month the country has ‘doubled’ its capacity of ventilators, and equipment is constantly arriving. A new shipment of 20 tons of supplies arrived in Lisbon today, from China, while others are programmed through April into May. 

Saturday April 4:

  • The best news coming out of today’s press briefing is that ‘secondary infections are down to 1.8’. This means that  anyone unlucky enough to contract the virus is not passing it onto more than two people. “This is considerably less than before”, health minister Marta Temido told journalists who were faced with interpreting yet more deaths and more infections.
  • Again, the ‘bad news’ has some ‘positive indications’: the number of deaths from Thursday to Friday increased by 22, which translates into an increase of ‘only’ 6.5%. Every death is lamentable, said the health minister, but for authorities focused on reducing the effects of this pandemic in Portugal, the daily increase is showing, without doubt, that the draconian measures enforced are bringing results.
  • Portugal’s ‘lethality percentage’ for the population in general remains at 2.5% – considerably lower than neighbouring Spain (9.3%), than France (10.1%), UK (9.4%) and Italy (12.3%). The map giving this information can still be found via this link.
  • Deaths in the Algarve are up to five, but the death registered in the Alentejo yesterday has been ‘removed’ from the official list as it was finally concluded that the patient had died from causes other than the virus.
  • The latest figures can be consulted here
  • The number of patients who have recovered from treatment in hospital has increased to 76.
  • Almost 87% of positive cases are being ‘treated’ at home.
  • Of the 10.2% of those ill enough to be admitted to hospital, 261 are in intensive care units, representing an increase in numbers of six from yesterday.


Friday April 3: 

  • 9.4% increase in infections (meaning 852 more people have been diagnosed with the virus since yesterday, bringing national total so far to 9,886)
  • 17.7% increase in deaths since yesterday. This is the largest increase in deaths so far, bringing totals to 246.
  • One of deaths was in the Alentejo – the region’s first in this pandemic.
  • Hospital numbers have only slightly increased – from 1,042 to 1,058.
  • Numbers in intensive care have increased by five to 245.
  • 74,377 cases remain ‘suspected of having the virus’ of which 5,392 are awaiting test results. Over 59,000 people have so far registered negative for the coronavirus.
  • Regions of the north and Lisbon remain the worst affected (click here for map)
  • Of the 246 deaths so far, 156 have been in people over the age of 80, 55 have been in people over the age of 70, 21 have been in over-60s, nine have registered in people aged between 50-59, and two have been registered in patients aged between 40-49.
  • As press briefings go this was not a very positive one: yes, the percentage number of infections are well down on ‘the early days’, but the number of deaths continues to rise.
  • The percentage of lethality overall is ‘not bad’ (in comparison with other countries) at 2.5% but it is at a dizzying rate now for the over-70s: 10.2%
  • As all the authorities keep stressing, the message given today by secretary of state António Lacerda Sales was: This is ‘a critical month’, and we ‘cannot relax our guard on the only defence (available) which is social contact’.

Thursday April 2

  • It’s the best of today’s good news, highlighted clearly by the diagram above created by Diário de Notícias.
  • “Very worrying” explained SIC televison news nonetheless are the numbers of infected patients needing hospital treatment. These have risen in just 24-hours by 316.
  • That translates into 1,042 people in hospital battling the effects of Covid-19
  • 240 of these patients are in intensive care, 10 more than yesterday.
  • Total numbers of infected have increased by 783 to 9,034 (an increase of 9.5%)
  • Another 4,958 people are awaiting the results of tests.
  • 52,903 cases have not yet been confirmed.
  • Numbers in the Algarve and Alentejo continue to rise, but not dramatically. There have been no further deaths in the Algarve for some days, and none at all in the Alentejo.
  • The next bit of ‘good news’ is that patients deemed fully-recovered now number 68.
  • For a look at national numbers in map form click here
  • For a look at regional numbers in map form click here
  • With offers of much-needed medical equipment and ventilators being announced all the time – many of them already received – the reality is that 1,124 medical professionals have been infected with the virus – 206 of them doctors, 282 nurses and the rest ‘other professionals’.
  • Talking to journalists at the regular lunchtime press briefing, DGS health director Graça Freitas stressed: “We will only know when we have reached the peak when we start to go down” in terms of numbers reaching hospital.
  • But the final ‘good news of the day’ has to be from the interactive map produced by the World Health Organisation. It shows Portugal’s overall percentage of ‘lethality’ in this pandemic (ie how many people in every 100 that have died) at 2.3%. That compares to Spain’s 9.1%, Italy’s 11.9% and even the UK’s 8.6%.
  • The map can be consulted via Expresso: click here

Wednesday April 1

  • The good news of the day is that the curve in the number of daily cases is slowly reducing. Today’s press briefing heard that there was ‘only’ an 11% increase in the number of cases yesterday. Sunday to Monday saw the lowest increase of all (just 7.5%). It is certainly looking like Portugal’s ‘containment measures’ due to be extended for another two weeks through Easter are starting to show positive results.
  • That said, the number of deaths registered in the last 24 hours is up on yesterday, with 27 patients having lost their lives (an increase of 16.9%).
  • Today’s ‘situation report’ can be seen here
  • The number of people interned in hospitals is also ‘up’ quite dramatically to 727, of which 230 are battling for life in intensive care.
  • The dismal ‘percentages of lethality’ are up too: to 2.3% in general and 9.1% in the over-70s.
  • Numbers of infected have increased in every region of the country, with DGS health authority data still not registering the third death in the Algarve.

Tuesday March 31

  • Seven doctors and one nurse are among the 188 people now battling for life in intensive care units in Porto and Lisbon (see more details below).
  • Numbers of infected are up by 16.1% to 7,443, with over 52,000 suspected cases – an increase of 17.8%.
  • Deaths to have increased by 14% to 160, representing 20 new deaths over the last 24 hours.
  • Testing in wide scale is now going ahead, particularly in old people’s homes throughout the country. The ‘good news’ here is that the tests have been produced ‘in Portugal’ reducing the need for dependence on outside sources. It’s a huge operation, starting in Lisbon, Aveiro, Évora and Guarda and extending to the borough’s of Loulé and Portimão where the Algarve’s first cases were registered. Said labour minister Ana Mendes Godinho, the plan is to start by testing everyone working within the homes (these being people who potentially could be vehicles of infection as they enter and leave work everyday) as well as all those showing symptoms.
  • Regarding the medical personnel in ICU care today, nurses syndicate president José Correia Azevedo explains four of the doctors are in Porto’s São João hospital, one is in Hospital de Santo António, and two – a married couple – are in Lisbon’s Curry Cabral. The nurse too is in Curry Cabral.
  • The issue of medical staff being constantly at risk due to a lack of necessary protective equipment getting through remains current, with Correia Azevedo reiterating the intention of his syndicate to advance with an injunction (click here).
  • Good news? The best coming out of today’s press briefing was the story of a 93-year-old woman from Lisbon admitted with ‘serious pneumonia’ and testing positive for the virus who has now made a full recovery and returned home to her husband. Other positive aspects are the constant arrivals/ deliveries of medical equipment and government initiatives to try and protect the most vulnerable, including victims of domestic violence. The overriding message of the day, however, was that “we cannot relax our guard”.
  • For the official list of figures (click here). There are ‘anomalies’, for example, deaths in the Algarve are not 2 but 3, but these usually iron out over subsequent days as information trickles in.

Monday March 30

  • As thousands of tests go ahead in old people’s homes today, we learn that numbers battling for their lives in intensive care units throughout the country are up by another 21 since yesterday to 164.
  • 571 people are now being treated in hospitals, roughly 200 more than recorded before the weekend.
  • Deaths are up to 140, an increase of 17.6% on yesterday.
  • Suspected cases are up 16% to 44,206.
  • Secretary of State for health António Lacerda Sales told today’s press briefing: “It is two weeks since we closed the schools. We have to keep this work (of enforced isolation) going because this virus is not letting go. Staying at home means saving lives“.
  • The press briefing detailed the amount of tests and equipment due to arrive this week as the country continues to battle the outbreak (66,000 further testing kits, 5.2 million surgical masks, 1.2 million respirators and “other equipment like gowns and boots”)
  • For further details on numbers click here
  • Público stresses figures reported today show the lowest increase in new cases since the lockdown.
  • 853 health professionals have been infected by the virus so far.
  • Pregnant women are now being given priority for testing.
  • Diabetics heard that they are now among the group that shows “the worst complications” of infection.

Sunday March 29

With the latest press briefing on steadily rising numbers, news has come through of the death of a 14-year-old boy from Ovar who reportedly suffered from an auto-immune condition.

Say reports, the child died early this morning.

He was admitted to the Hospital de São Sebastião in Santa Maria da Feira yesterday (Saturday).

Mayor of Ovar Salvador Malheiro told reporters the child “had not been confirmed as having (new coronavirus) infection but after being taken into hospital and being tested, the test came back as positive. He did already have health problems”.

Noticiasaominuto describes those problems as psoriasis, an auto-immune skin condition.

Answering questions today, both health minister Marta Temido and DGS health director Graça Freitas said it was much too soon to say that the child had died specifically from the virus, as his clinical situation was ‘complex’.

Further investigation into the case will be going ahead and for now the boy’s death has not been included in the daily update, showing a total of 119 deaths and a further 792 people who have tested positive.

The DGS figures have already been uploaded onto their site and can be seen here.

The ‘worst affected areas’ remain the north and those around Lisbon, but numbers are creeping up everywhere, with the Algarve now registering 108 positive cases (as well as the two deaths that have taken place), and the Alentejo showing 41.

Over 5,500 people are currently awaiting the results of tests, while the numbers being treated in hospital (indicating patients too seriously ill to recover from the virus ‘at home’) is up to 486 – 138 of which are in intensive care.

The so called ‘percentage of lethality’ of the virus overall is currently pegged at 2%, but rises now to 8.1% in the over-70s.

Yesterday the ‘percentage of lethality’ for the over-70s was given at 7.9%.

In other words, the risk to the elderly is becoming more acute, hence authorities’ warnings to the general public to comply with the ‘State of Emergency’ measures of self-isolation being so important.

Much of today’s press briefing was given over to advice to all those caring for the elderly within the community to bring in strict rules to ensure their safety.

Meantime the mayor of Ovar – the area still covered by a ‘State of Calamity’ due to the high number of cases within the borough – has reminded reporters that the effects lockdown imposed 11 days ago won’t be seen for some time yet, bearing in mind positive cases take two to three weeks to ’emerge’. He stressed that he thinks positive cases will “increase a great deal” as testing continues, and repeated requests for help from the health ministry.

Saturday March 28:

  • Presenting today’s update health minister Marta Temido stressed that the lethality percentage in the over-70s (the people most affected by the novel coronavirus) in Portugal has reached 7.9%.
  • 24 further deaths have been recorded in the last 24-hours, bringing the total number so far to 100.
  • Today’s press briefing heard the relatively good news, however, that the ‘stay at home’ policy is working: the curve (of new cases needing hospital treatment) is gently flattening, sending projections for the country’s ‘peak’ further and further into May.
  • There is no room for complacency nonetheless: the number of infectious cases is at 5,170 – 902 more than were registered yesterday.
  • Of those new cases, there will be ‘many more people who have been infected’ now awaiting the results of tests.
  • The number of people awaiting the results of tests was put at 4,938.
  • 89% of cases are being treated within their own homes.
  • 89 people however are now in intensive care.
  • Figures for the various regions have been uploaded onto the DGS health authority site (click here).
  • The north is the area worst affected, but what appears not to have been picked up at the briefing was the fact that the second death in the Algarve (see below) is still not part of national statistics, though it has been included within today’s update by ARS Algarve (click here)
  • Both Marta Temido and the director of DGS Graça Freitas stressed the necessity this weekend of citizens remaining ‘at home’. “The number of patients we will have depends on all of us”, said the minister. “This has to be a different kind of Easter for all of us so that we can return to being together once again”.

Friday March 27: Portimão teacher dies of Covid-19 infection

  • A male mathematics teacher at Portimão’s Escola Secundária Manuel Teixeira Gomes has become the Algarve’s second fatality as a result of Covid-19. Named as Manuel Magalhães, he has been described by some media sources as a colleague of the teacher who returned from holiday in Italy after Carnival break becoming one of the first registered infections in the region. (See separate story for more details.) Mr Magalhães is described as in his 60s and a resident of Lagoa. Some sources suggest he had “previous cardiac problems”.
  • New figures out today show the number of deaths has increase to 76, with another 20% spike in infections bringing numbers of those proving positive to date up to 4,268.
  • Infections in both the Algarve and Alentejo continue to rise. The former now registering 99 people proving positive with the virus, the latter 30. Further breakdown of areas shows that in the Algarve Monchique and Olhão have now joined the affected municipalities of Faro, Loulé, Albufeira, Tavira, Vila Real de Santo António, Portimão, Silves and Lagoa. Strangely, DGS statistics showed yesterday that there were four cases of the virus in Lagos. Today, Lagos does not appear on the list of boroughs with confirmed cases.
  • 71 people are now battling for their lives in intensive care, while 354 are interned in various hospitals.
  • Today’s press conference saw focus very much on the way this virus is cutting a swathe through old people’s homes. DGS director Graça Freitas said it is up to each and every area that has an old people’s home to devise measures that will protect occupants. Prevention is absolutely fundamental.
  • Old people’s homes in the north have shown alarming rates of infection. In one, in Vila Real, 99 people (this includes many of the care staff themselves) have proved positive for the virus. As a result, mayor of Porto Rui Moreira has announced that all those living and working in care homes throughout the city will start to be compulsorily tested.
  • As preventive measures slow the spread of the virus, projections for when Portugal will hit its peak are being constantly revised. Ms Freitas said today that authorities are now not expecting the peak before May. She told reporters: “We have been advised by our mathematicians that the peak won’t be an instant moment in time. There will be a plateau of some weeks as we know now that this illness lasts a very long time. We will not reach ‘day x’ and start straight away to (see numbers) go down”.
    • According to today’s numbers, the ‘death rate’ among cases in Portugal stands at 1.7%.
  • Meantime municipalities up and down the country are involved in mass-disinfection operations, appealing to citizens to ‘stay out of the way’ as these go ahead.

Thursday March 26:

  • Braced for a marked acceleration in cases as the country enters ‘the most complicated phase of the pandemic (that of ‘mitigation’ due to the virus now in clear transmission throughout the community), doctors have been given the green-light to treat patients worst-affected with malaria, HIV and Ebola anti-virals. The efficacy of these medications is still under investigation, but with the number of infections rising as testing becomes more effective, DGS health authorities have decided benefits outweigh the risks. The medicines now approved for ‘worst case scenarios’ are Lopinavir/Ritonavir (normally used for HIV cases), Remdesivir (Ebola) and chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine (malaria)
  • Deaths are up again – but still nothing like other European countries. The count from yesterday has risen by 17, from 43 to 60.
  • Infections too (almost certainly due to the marked increase in testing) are up to 3,544 (from yesterday’s 2,995), an increase of 18.3%-4
  • Recoveries too are up to 43 – that’s 21 more than were pronounced cured yesterday.
  • Testing continues with over 2,000 awaiting results.
  • Worst affected areas continue to be the north and Lisbon, with 1,858 and 1,082 cases respectively. Deaths in both again are the highest: 28 in the north, 18 in the Lisbon area. The centre of the country follows with 435 cases and 13 deaths – while the Algarve and Alentejo ring in the lowest numbers. One death in Algarve (89 positive cases), 20 cases in Alentejo, 24 cases in the Azores and 15 in Madeira. Regarding the Alentejo, cases are inching their way towards the Algarve border in the west, with fruit pickers in Odemira being among the latest stats. 
  • All hospitals are now involved in this fight, including the private hospitals.
  • A second baby has been born to a Covid-19 positive mother, and tests negative.
  • President Marcelo has cancelled Portugal Day commemorations scheduled for June 10.
  • It’s becoming more and more ‘clear’ that schools will not be returning for the ‘third period’ (summer term). See story to come.
  • Of cases confirmed, the highest numbers have been registered, yet again in the 40-49 age group. Children under the age of 10 are also Covid-19 positive (14 boys and 29 girls), but it is still the over 70s who ‘inspire most concern’.
  • Of the deaths, these have involved three men and one woman aged between 50-59, eight men aged between 60-69, 14 men and one woman in the 70-79 age bracket and 16 men and 17 women over the age of 80.
  • Due to this heightened phase of virus propagation, the Civil Protection authority has put the areas of Lisbon, Porto and Aveiro under ‘orange alert’. What this means however is a little unclear: the message given in a press conference yesterday was for people in those areas to ‘stay at home’. It’s the message given to the whole country, but perhaps suggests transgressors in Lisbon, Porto and Aveiro will be dealt with more harshly.


Wednesday March 25:

Pre- today’s press briefing, the mood of the press has changed dramatically over the last 24-hours with Expresso carrying a story on how the associations of doctors, nurses and pharmacists have actually accused the government of ‘lying’  – particularly when it comes to vital supplies of medical material coming through (see separate story).

The inference that Portugal’s situation may not be as it is being presented has also been highlighted by the mayor of Ovar, who posted last night on Facebook that the number of positive cases in his borough is “almost double” the figure announced by DGS health authorities yesterday.

“The situation in Ovar continues to be very complicated and infected patients in serious or very serious conditions are starting to appear”, he wrote last night. “We really need help from our health ministry. Meantime, the up-to-date number of infected confirmed at this time by the municipality is 101, which is quite a bit different from the 55 announced today”.

Carehomes too have been reporting serious situations, with dozens of elderly inmates showing signs of infection and being shipped out to waiting hospitals.

Midday today saw prime minister António Costa on a visit to Lisbon’s Curry Cabral hospital which is now exclusively given over to treating patients suffering from the virus. It was a clear ‘damage limitation’ exercise backed by the hospital hierarchy which insisted there was no lack of any medical equipment or necessities.

Figures released as Mr Costa was giving a short press conference show that positive cases now are just under 3,000, representing a 27% increase on those recorded yesterday.

Deaths too are up again, from 33 to 43. Suspected cases now stand at 21,155.

A report from today’s press briefing will follow shortly, but it is clear from diagrams released over national television that the numbers of infected now in the Alentejo have leapt to 12 (from yesterday’s 6) and those in the Algarve have also increased to 62 from yesterday’s 46. The only ‘saving grace’ here is that all cases are in the boroughs already affected: Portimão (11 cases), Lagoa (4), Silves (3), Albufeira (17), Loulé (7), Faro (17), Tavira (1) and Vila Real de Sto António (3).

Worst affected areas remain the north and Lisbon.

80% of deaths have been in the over-70s, which is why authorities are trying so hard to ram home the message for this age-group to ‘stay indoors’.

Talking outside Lisbon’s Curry Cabral Hospital just before the press briefing began, the prime minister stressed that more than anything right now, “more than numbers and all the questions being asked, is the need for enormous discipline”. Citizens must remain under the “maximum possible isolation” as the country enters the most critical phase of this outbreak: that of ‘mitigation’ in which community transmission is underway. Not explosively, stresses Graça Freitas of the DGS health authority, but dangerous nonetheless.

The next few days will be pivotal in seeing where this pandemic, in national terms, is headed.

Tuesday March 24:

Tuesday’s ‘Covid-19’ press conference presenting data from the last 24-hours managed to get itself into something of a mess.

First it was reported that there had been six deaths up till midnight last night. That number suddenly changed to seven, and now it is at 10.

The confusion stemmed from data being used that hadn’t been fully updated.

In total however, infections have been established in 2,362 people – representing an increase of 302 on yesterday’s totals.

Testing is continuing – perhaps not as widely as the public might like, thus figures will be constantly changing.

Today’s press briefing was ‘more aggressive’ than usual in as much as journalists kept pressing for further details. Who were the latest dead, for example? (Well, that was complicated as they kept increasing). Were they elderly people in care homes?

None of the answers really satisfied.

We heard there are currently 203 people interned in various hospitals, 48 of them in intensive care.

The north of the country continues to be the most affected, with 1,130 cases of the virus and nine deaths.

Lisbon and Vale do Tejo comes next with 852 cases registered and eight deaths.

The centre of the country has 293 cases and has suffered 11 deaths.

The Algarve now has 46 cases (only one death so far, last week), while cases in the Azores and Madeira are unfortunately increasing by the day: 12 in the Azores so far, 11 in Madeira.

The Alentejo, this far the area with the fewest cases, has now registered six people with the virus, all of them understood to have contracted it via someone who had recently returned from ‘abroad’.

For the first time, the DGS health directorate has listed municipalities affected by the pandemic: Lisbon is the city with the most cases (175), followed by Porto (126), Maia (104), Vila Nova de Gaia (68) and Valongo (65).

Today’s panel was without the familiar (somehow comforting) face of Graça Freitas. Instead the DGS health directorate was represented by Diogo Cruz, the deputy director working alongside Ms Freitas – while the health ministry was represented by Secretary of State António Lacerda Sales.

The ‘good news’ was that supplies of ventilators are increasing all the time – with 500 purchased by the government from China expected over the course of the next few weeks up to April 14.

The ‘not so good news’ is that the country is most definitely now in the ‘mitigation phase’ in that community transmission is in clear evidence.

Nonetheless, last night on national television prime minister António Costa insisted that  the health system is not in danger of collapse, nor are we anywhere near the point of running out of necessary supplies and materials.

“We will not lose control of the situation”, he told his interviewers, stressing nonetheless that “we cannot create the illusion that we will get through this without pain”.

Meantime, the way Portuguese hospitals deal with positive patients is changing to ensure only those with the most serious symptoms are interned.

Another new development is that anyone now showing signs of a persistent dry cough and fever will qualify for testing.

Pressure to test people who are not showing symptoms has been rejected this far for being likely to create a ‘false sense of security’.

In the wider sphere, four planes will be leaving Lisbon today for Germany, Brazil and the UK evacuating stranded cruise line passengers from the multideck behemoth ‘MSC Fantasia’.