Marta Temido talking today in Coimbra

“I think we all agree on self-responsibility” –  health minister

Marta Temido’s comment suggests no new Covid restrictions likely

In spite of all the backstage pressure, it looks like Portugal’s government is resolute about moving forwards in terms of the pandemic, and not returning to old restrictions.

Talking today at Coimbra’s paediatric hospital in the context of World Children’s Day, Ms Temido admitted that the government is concerned about controlling the impact of Covid on the most vulnerable – meaning largely the elderly – given the increase in infections, leading to deaths particularly in this sector of society.

She said as a result second booster doses have been rolled out already in residential homes, while June will see them administered to the over-80s in outpatient clinics.

An increase in the number of infections was always expected with the relaxing of pandemic control measures, she said – and authorities are already “fine tuning” a response plan for vaccination – “that will focus on the most vulnerable” – in the autumn.

Eventually, it will lead on to “the over 65s, with the flu vaccine and the Covid 19 vaccine together, ensuring that people are protected before an eventual new peak, associated with adverse temperatures”, she said.

In other words, the likelihood of further mass-vaccinations across all age groups seems slim.

Nonetheless, the media has given a lot of space to ‘expert opinion’ calling for the reimposition of masks in indoor contexts. In this regard, Lusa writes today that the minister was “asked about the possibility of reassessing relief measures” – and her answer seems to suggest there is very little possibility (if any at all).

“The minister stressed that the Portuguese government’s option is aligned with the options of most governments, both in terms of management and response to the pandemic”, says the State agency – and most governments in Europe have dropped restrictions.

Ms Temido acknowledged that “what differentiated the Portuguese situation that we have today was a sub-lineage of a known variant. The report of the Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute, released yesterday, on sequencing, shows almost 90% with the BA.5 sub-lineage (of Omicron)”.

BA.5 is much more transmissible, but like other strains of Omicron, far less virulent than previous strains And this is almost certainly why Portugal’s health minister said: “We must continue to focus, I think we all agree, on self-responsibility“.

Source material: Lusa