Portugal can’t take another lockdown, yet the time to prepare for whatever comes this winter is “very short”.
This was the message today from prime minister António Costa as he closed the presentation of the new Simplex programme at Parque das Nações in Lisbon.
The “unrepentant optimist” stressed that “we may not be able to do everything, but we have to roll up our sleeves and do everything to assure the continued functioning of society, meaning schools, businesses, public administration – even if we have the same, or a worse situation than the one we faced in March. We have to accelerate this process”.
“Science tells us nothing”, he added. “We only know that our intuition tells us that winter is habitually a time where immunity is lower. It’s not by chance that more people are ill in the winter, that there is more flu around than in the summer.
“With what we know today, we have to hope for the best, but prepare ourselves for the worst”.
The sobering thoughts touched on being able to take advantage of “available European resources” which are equal ‘unknowns’ right now as there has been no agreement by the 27 member states. What could be a ‘crunch summit’ to reach one starts in two days time in Brussels.
Whatever happens – and irrespective of the ‘we’ll take a backwards step if necessary’ vow as the country prepared to emerge from lockdown (click here) – the prime minister was clear: Portugal won’t tolerate another period of confinement because society “families and people” simply wouldn’t accept it.
Services and business “are well organised”. It’s a race against time to “accelerate and elevate the ambition for what we can and must do”, he concluded.
Mr Costa’s warnings come in a week when the World Health Organisation has been particularly ‘gloomy’, warning that if countries don’t comply with public health guidelines, the pandemic could get “worse and worse and worse”.
A more positive viewpoint however comes from certain independent doctors following outbreaks in different parts of the world.
In the Algarve, for example, we have a former specialist in catastrophe medicine Dr Lourdes Cerol Bandeira posting regular ‘updates’ – and today’s is surprisingly positive: “It seems everyone has been doing their homework”, she says. “The number of cases has dropped substantially (by 233). All graphs remain unaltered. Of the 1,668 deaths, 1438 were in the 70+ age group: 1114 were more than 80 years old and a lot were 90++”.