Photo of Admiral Gouveia e Melo by Manuel de Almeida/ Lusa

Future Covid crisis: government “can count on the military”

Former vaccine Czar joins gathering chorus of “it’s not over yet”

Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo is the latest figure to join the gathering chorus warning that Covid-19 still poses a significant threat.

On a day when the government ‘assured’ there was no need for a return to restrictions, but DGS health chief Graça Freitas said it was a good plan for people to return to wearing masks indoors, ‘particularly in large gatherings’, Lusa cited Gouveia e Melo saying that “if it was necessary to reconvene a task force to manage the fight against Covid-19 in Portugal, the government could count on the military”.

That this comes as 194 countries are ready to sign up to a new ‘accord’, pushed by the World Health Organisation, to tighten controls in future pandemics – and in the wake of the small print of the government’s own revised Civil Protection legislation in this regard (see story to come), suggests authorities are a long way from being ready to relax focus on SARS-CoV-2 – even though they have admitted it is not causing increased deaths, and those who are dying are, in the main, well beyond the average age of life expectancy. 

In other words, ‘something is up’ – smacking of an orchestrated media campaign to push people into believing that Covid, in the height of summer, still poses a major threat to life.

For his part, Admiral Gouveia e Melo – the man who single-handedly dragooned Portugal through a stellar mass-vaccination campaign – said that he was sure that if forces were called upon again to support the ‘fight’ against SARS-CoV-2, “they would not refuse the task”, writes Lusa.

Asked what he thought of the government’s (current) strategy (of not re-introducing restrictions) when cases are increasing in Portugal, he declined to comment, says the State news agency.

And this is where the pressure seemingly at work ‘behind the scenes’ to continue to try and control people’s everyday can be detected.

Even though it has been clearly established that pressure on hospitals right now is NOT down to Covid-19, the tabloid press particularly has presented the situation as if it is.

“Graça Freitas appeals for the use of masks”, writes Correio da Manhã this morning.

Restaurateurs are also calling for ‘staff and clients to return to wearing masks’, in a bid to cut down on transmission which, they say, is affecting staff rosters (anyone found positive cannot work for a week).

Acceptance that ‘reinfections’ are actually a positive thing refuses to be acknowledged.  Instead the atmosphere is one of “we’re taking great risks with the country’s health, and should be ready, with a mask in our back pocket, to uphold the common good’.

Another unaddressed area is the fact that “Portugal is one of the EU countries with most daily cases of infection and is among the first with the most deaths per million inhabitants. In the past sufficient to shut Portuguese in their homes” – (this from Correio da Manhã this morning).

Bearing in mind Portugal is also one of the most vaccinated countries in the European Union, few (if any) are joining the dots.

CM ends an editorial today calling for government strategy that better accommodates the “we’re not through the crisis yet” brigade, suggesting we should all go back to disinfecting hands religiously and wearing masks in certain contexts.

The minister for the economy meantime is reported to have “called for measures to halt the 6th Covid wave, for the sake of tourism“.