PHOTO: MÁRIO CRUZ/LUSA

Incidence of Covid-19 in Portugal ‘skyrockets’ but transmission falls

With 500 people now in hospital with Covid-19 – twice the number of only four weeks ago – Portugal’s level of incidence has skyrocketed since Friday’s bulletin.

Whereas Friday showed an incidence of 138.7 cases per 100,000 (click here), today’s tally has risen 23 points to 161.7 (click here).

National media is focusing on the escalating numbers, pointing out that one in every three people in hospital have already either started the vaccination process, or completed it.

British media has explained this apparent conundrum, stressing “the vaccines are working” nonetheless.

The important aspect is ‘deaths’. In spite of the rising numbers, these remain residual. Today’s bulletin, for example, shows two deaths. Saturday and Sundays were similar (Sunday one death, Saturday two).

This is because “the relationship between cases and those worse outcomes (of contracting Covid-19) has shifted”.

This is the explanation of Sky News Economist and data editor Ed Conway, who concludes that albeit things could change in the coming weeks, “for the time being, the good news is outweighing the bad”.

The numbers of people entering hospital, for example, are nothing like the numbers who are dying.

The most important data point – at least in UK – is that the percentage of people with Covid-19 who go on to die of it has dropped from its previous level of 2% (when the Alfa/ Kent variant was on everyone’s lips) and is now, in the grip of the Delta variant, at 0.3%.

Taking Portuguese figures, the percentage is higher (due to the reduced level of vaccinations) but still below the 2% lethality rate that we saw in the past.

To this effect, the vaccination task force is powering ahead with its programme, extending the hours of health centres in the Lisbon area so that as many people as humanly possible can be jabbed as fast as possible.

Any other ‘good news’ as statistically we are still very much in the ‘red’ of the official risk matrix? Yes, there is: Rt transmission has reduced since last Friday, from 1.15 on the mainland, to 1.14.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com