PM “cannot exclude possibility” of new lockdown in Portugal

In another major u-turn, prime minister António Costa has told journalists that he ‘cannot exclude the possibility’ of another lockdown due to the rising number of new coronavirus infections.

Talking exclusively to Público, the PM stressed however that the government’s focus is on doing everything to avoid it.

The ‘change of message’ comes a little more than 24-hours after Mr Costa went back on pledges about the ‘voluntary nature’ of the government’s contact tracing app, StayAway Covid (click here).

Says the PM, the country needs a ‘major shake’ in order for citizens to change their behaviour so that the rate of infections is slowed down.

That said, the number of deaths is not, on average, showing any great increase. Hospitals in certain areas (Lisbon/ Vale do Tejo and the north) however have been reporting ‘critical levels’ in some infirmaries, thus the need for contingency measures.

Said Mr Costa, field hospitals in Lisbon and Porto are being ‘resurrected’ (these were mothballed late spring after barely being used click here).

Says SIC television news, he ‘rejected’ the notion that the new measures brought in under the State of Calamity this week have anything to do with the fact that new infections now are in the 2000-a-day ballpark. It’s more to do with the “serious situation that the country has been experiencing with cases rising consistently since the middle of August”.

“I felt very clearly that society needed a major shake”, the PM told Público. “Time was passing, people were starting to get exhausted by the whole thing, almost used to the risk, or certainly not so concerned about it – and the age bracket (for contagions) was changing”.

This refers to the fact that younger people right now are the ones who are most testing positive for the virus (albeit the vast majority of them never showing serious symptoms).

This appears to be the point where he stressed that a second lockdown could certainly be on its way.

“If you asked me to swear that dramatic steps wouldn’t be taken, i couldn’t”, he told Público. It’s a question of good sense”. Everyone’s ‘individual behaviour’ is the key to what happens next.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com