Raquel Duarte speaking at today's Infarmed meeting

Infarmed meeting: Specialists propose four-point plan towards release of pandemic restrictions

Specialists have proposed a four-point plan towards Portugal’s easing of pandemic led restrictions.

Today’s meeting between members of the government, virologists, epidemiologists and mathematicians at Infarmed saw specialist Raquel Duarte of Porto University’s institute of public health map out the steps, taking data from both the UK (where almost all restrictions have been dropped overnight) and Israel (which has adopted a more cautious approach).

The way forwards she believes will be dependent on the ongoing vaccination of the Portuguese population, with level one “corresponding to the current moment” and level four being the moment the country attains herd immunity (now set at 85% of the population being fully-vaccinated).

Each level will continue with ‘three fundamental rules’, proposes Raquel Duarte: 

  • ventilation and ‘adequate climatisation of closed spaces’ (she said this needs to be ‘properly planned for next autumn/ winter)
  • use of the Covid Digital Certificate ‘as a matter of routine’
  • self-evaluation of risk (“meaning people should be aware of the dangers of incomplete vaccination, of ‘contacts of risk’ and of frequenting places with a lot of people”).

On the basis of these ‘three fundamental rules’, the plan means the continued wearing of masks in closed spaces and in public places and “avoidance of non-controlled agglomerations”.

Remote working where possible is to continue, but aspects like the number of people allowed at a restaurant table will ‘increase’ as the country moves through the various levels.

For the time being, the four-point plan has skirted round the issue of reopening Portugal’s ‘nightlife’. Levels one and two appear not to include anything remotely approaching the return for example of discotheques. 

Meantime, the continued ‘control of mobility’ in and out of the country by land, air and sea, is advocated, as well as the continued use of public transport dependent physical distancing and mask wearing, as well as air filtration and/ or open windows. 

In other words, it will be ‘business as usual’ until the country attains the nirvana of 85% vaccination coverage, even though with this coverage it is widely accepted now that people will still contract the virus and transmit it.

For the rest of today’s news emerging from the Infarmed meeting, see our briefly section to the right of this story.

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