“Over 1,300 students quarantined and 78 infected”: Algarve health delegate addresses school suspension

Following yesterday’s surprise announcement that in-person classes for first to sixth-grade students in five Algarve boroughs have been suspended due to the pandemic (click here), the regional health delegate has revealed that 1,300 of the affected students are quarantined and 78 have tested positive for Covid-19.

Ana Cristina Guerreiro explained today that the decision was discussed on Saturday morning as “more and more classes were being isolated”. However, it took “some time” for the authorities involved to come to an agreement, the health delegate told Lusa news agency.

“We know that when the incidence rate in the community is very high, it starts to become harder to control the number of cases at schools, and these boroughs (Albufeira, Loulé, São Brás de Alportel, Faro and Olhão) have very high 14-day incidence rates,” said Guerreiro.

Albufeira has the highest incidence rate, with 583 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Loulé (448), Olhão (403), Faro (329) and São Brás (326).
Several school sports teams are also isolating, although after-school activities have not yet been suspended.

“At this moment, we did not want to affect the lives of people even more by suspending ATL (after-school activities),” said the health delegate, adding that authorities are looking at each case individually.

While some ATLs were called off for today, Guerreiro revealed that they are free to ‘carry on’ – for the time being at least.

The decision to suspend in-person first to sixth-grade classes could soon be extended to other boroughs where cases are increasing such as Lagos and Portimão, but the health delegate said that the five boroughs currently affected are where the measure was most “justifiable” at the time.

As the Resident reported earlier today, opposition party PSD has lambasted the decision, describing the measure as “intolerable and disrespectful” to parents, many of whom do not have anyone to leave their children with.

The suspension is expected to last 12 days until July 8 – the day that classes are due to end for the 1º Ciclo (first to fourth-grade) and 2º Ciclo (fifth and sixth).

The health authority justified its decision as a “precaution” due to the “816 confirmed active cases of Covid-19” in the five boroughs.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com