Portugal prolongs “Covid situation of alert”

In spite of numbers falling below well danger levels set by experts

Portugal’s government has today prolonged the situation of alert regarding Covid-19 for another month, when all data shows that impact of the virus has dropped below levels set by experts in the past for the requirement of  restrictions.

The promise, back in February, that all restrictions would shortly be going seems to have vanished into the ether as reasoning now appears to centre on the number of vulnerable people who take public transports.

As minister for the presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva said this afternoon: “At this moment, the series of measures still in place is very reduced. The most significant measure that remains – the use of masks on public transports – I should say that faced with the reduction of mortality verified at this time, the government returned to questioning specialists and experts, and their opinion was that the use of a mask on public transports is a measure that should be maintained principally for the protection of the most vulnerable populations who are obviously users of these public transports”.

To be fair, Ms Vieira da Silva did not explain why it is “obvious” that the most vulnerable populations use public transports, but we are where we are – at a time when the last Covid report by DGS health authorities showed just 49 people in intensive care with issues resulting from SARS-CoV-2 infection – and when entry into this country is back to where it was pre-pandemic: ie there are no requirements to show immunity to the virus, no requirements to show any record of Covid vaccinations, or even a negative test.

SIC television news asks the question, “and after August?” Whereupon it comes clear that not only will mask wearing continue to be obligatory on public transports, it may come back in force for other areas and activities.

“We know that with the arrival of autumn and winter it is possible that we will have a situation of worsening of the pandemic which could make recourse to additional measures necessary”, said Ms Vieira da Silva.

The situation right now “is controlled”, the minister admitted, “with a reduction in mortality to levels that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control considers adequate, but the opinion of the experts was that mask wearing should remain”.

September will see a “new period of vaccination” and a “very close accompaniment to know if the autumn/ winter is still marked by the pandemic”, she added.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com