Lowest number of new virus cases in Portugal for 13 days

Today’s Covid numbers show not only that new case numbers are progressively coming down, but that Portugal has tallied the lowest number of new cases (3,919) in the last 13 days.

That means that despite the high numbers currently in hospital, this level of pressure should, in theory, start reducing over the course of the next week.

Nonetheless, the number of deaths (which will always be the final aspect to ‘come down’) is still high: 85 today, the majority (50) as always in the north of the country.

For a look at the official numbers, click here. For a look at a borough by borough analysis of cases, showing what proportion per 100,000 inhabitants are positive, click here.

Smaller boroughs, like São Brás de Alportel or Aljezur, for example, only need a handful of residents (less than 20 in the latter case) to take case numbers over the so-called ‘safe’ limit of 240 inhabitants per 100,000.

Another plus point about today’s update is that the number of people who tested positive and have now tested negative and deemed ‘recovered’ (even when many of them never felt ill in the first place) has also increased massively (up by 7,406 in the last 24-hours).

This means that the number of so-called ‘active cases’ has also reduced.

Reports this afternoon however are focusing on the high number of people in hospital; the high number of new internments over the last 24-hours (+34) and the fact that ICUs now have over 500 seriously ill people.

Yesterday’s figures showed 90 people had been admitted to hospital in the previous 24-hours, so in fact today’s number of 34 is a very marked reduction.

Yesterday’s numbers also showed 498 people in ICUs – therefore the increase (by eight) to 506 isn’t in fact a ‘massive rise’: more a consequence of the high numbers that are being treated in hospital as a result of the high number of infections registered two weeks ago.

Thus, if one looks at today’s numbers without looking at media headlines, there is a lot to be positive about. They suggest measures to reduce rates of transmission must be working.

Questions now are along the lines of: ‘can the government deliver on its pledge to roll out the vaccine in January?’

This was the message from health minister Marta Temido on Sunday although logistical issues are still very much unanswered.

Says SIC: “We know the Armed Forces and Civil Protection are involved in the operation, that TAP has made itself available to support transport, but the strategy for large scale immunisation is still unclear and, according to director general of health Graça Freitas will go through pharmacies”.

“The technical commission on vaccination against the new coronavirus, appointed earlier this month, awaits information from manufacturers on Phase III of clinical trials to determine strategies and recommend priorities and specific measures.

“At the moment there are still a lot of uncertainties over the organisation of priority groups and the vaccination criteria.

“The vaccines that are part of the agreements made by the European Commission are already ordered, but it’s not known when they will reach Portugal”.

Meantime, Graça Freitas has been closing in on the burning subject of Christmas, saying she hopes current restrictions will be able to be ‘softened’. It all depends on how the situation develops, she said – as the country anticipates the first of the two long weekends of December where 10.2 million people will be confined to their boroughs of residence.

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