Tiago Correia, specialist in International Public Health talking on SIC today

North of Portugal has more cases than Lisbon for second consecutive day

Portugal’s latest Covid bulletin shows that for the second consecutive day new case numbers are higher in the north than they are in Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo – the area that has been ‘leading the way’ in terms of virus transmission.

Authorities have for some time now been suggesting the outbreak in the capital is plateauing.

As for the ‘news’, this has to be taken against the increasing background of debate over the sense in ‘mass testing’ of asymptomatic people.

The WHO has already said this is not a sensible policy. There is no data, says its interim guidance of June 2021, that ‘widespread testing of asymptomatic individuals’ offers ‘operational effectiveness’.

Yet this is exactly what is going on in Portugal – particularly in Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo where mobile units are busy this week offering free Covid tests to anyone who happens to be in the area, whether they live in the capital, or even in the country.

That said, weekend results on testing are usually ‘low’. Today is no exception: 1,855 positive tests (we’re not told out of a universe of how many actually taken): 755 in the north, 624 in Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo, 231 in the Algarve, 127 in the central region and 61 in the Alentejo.

The number of people requiring treatment in hospital for Covid-19 has risen over the weekend, and stands now at 851 (181 of whom are in ICUs).

Again, this increase has to be set against the fact that totals are way down on previous maximums, particularly those of January and February.

Rt (the number indicating transmission) has dropped to 1.10 – but incidence nationally (on the mainland) has reached 403 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

This is an average: there are some rural municipalities with barely any cases, and then metropolitan areas with thousands.

Focus remains on ‘vaccination, vaccination, vaccination’, while very little is explained about the situation of those who have died from Covid recently.

Over the weekend, SIC’s news anchor Clara de Sousa described “people over the age of 80”, without adding whether these were people vaccinated or unvaccinated (the latter situation being unlikely, considering news reports claim the over 80’s in Portugal have been fully-protected, as have the over-70s and over-60s).

Talking on SIC afternoon news today, specialist in international public health Tiago Correia, speaking in the context of the UK’s decision to ‘drop restrictions’ as from today (in spite of rising case numbers) said people need to know whether vaccinated people are being reinfected; if they are being hospitalised in ICUs and what degree of illness is being experienced by younger generations.

“These are what should be the new red lines”, he said. “Much more than (details) on the circulation of the virus.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com