Portugal registers another 90 deaths – almost 5,000 new infections – as elsewhere lockdowns return

As news comes in from UK – where citizens have once again been plunged into a six-week-minimum national lockdown – the situation in Portugal continues to be ‘critical’.

Reports describe some hospitals having reached points of ‘rupture’ – requiring patients to be transferred elsewhere; 417 old people’s homes have active outbreaks of the virus and the number of new infections continues to be high.

In Évora social media reports claim the city’s morgue is ‘full of bodies’ and that a refrigerated truck has had to be installed outside to take the ‘overflow’.

In the last 24 hours, 90 more people are reported to have died with Covid-19 (taking the national total now since March to 7,286) while the Pfizer vaccine continues to be administered to the most vulnerable in IPSS and Misericórdia institutions.

Taking today’s press conference, DGS health authority director Graça Freitas has admitted that investigations are underway to determine the advisability of adopting the UK’s decision to delay the roll-out of the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine (in order to give as many people the chance of a first protective shot as soon as possible).

It’s not yet certain that Portugal will follow this approach. Among expert opinion being sought is that of Pfizer itself (which has said this is not a plan that has any scientific basis…)

Meantime, anxious questions into the cause of death of the pediatric assistant who received her first dose of the vaccine two days previously (click here) remain unanswered. Ms Freitas said investigations are still ongoing.

Other questions ‘hanging’ in the air centre on whether or not the pressure so acutely faced in other northern European countries will end up precipitating further combat measures in Portugal.

For now, parliament is endorsing the renewal of the country’s State of Emergency for another week (to January 15). The Council of Ministers will be meeting on Thursday and new data will determine whether some boroughs change their ‘risk classification’ (moving either up or down).

As reports have stressed, there are now boroughs in the Algarve in danger of moving into the ‘elevated risk category’ (which will mean tougher measures on mobility and the operation of businesses).

For the up-to-date picture of the country click here.

As we reported yesterday, the situation in Madeira has seen authorities declare a new ‘confinement’, introducing nighttime curfews and other restrictions on mobility and commerce.

The relaxation of measures over Christmas is being seen as one of the reasons for the worsening situation.

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