Embassy warns Portuguese of “heightened risks” of evacuation from China’s coronavirus epicentre

Portugal to ask Chinese tourists if they’ve been in contact with coronavirus patients

The Portuguese government is considering asking Chinese citizens travelling to Portugal to fill in a form to establish whether they have been in contact with anyone infected with the deadly coronavirus.

The nitty-gritty of how this would work – whether passengers would be requested to fill in the form before taking off and if they would be barred from boarding if the answers were worrisome – has not been revealed.

What is certain is that the goal is to keep Portugal “coronavirus-free” for as long as possible.

The decision to start handing out these forms may be made “in the coming hours or days”, Health Minister Marta Temido told Lusa news agency on Thursday after attending an extraordinary meeting that brought together all of the European Union’s Health Ministers in Brussels to discuss the new strain of the coronavirus – Covid-19.

The minister said that the government has already been handing out brochures with information about “symptoms and emergency contact numbers” to Chinese travellers so that they know what to do if they start experiencing symptoms while in Portugal.

But will EU countries start closing their doors to Chinese travellers if the virus continues to spread?

“That measure isn’t on the table yet, but it could be considered in another phase,” Temido told Lusa.

On Thursday, health officials in China reported more than 14,000 new cases in Hubei Province alone. The coronavirus death toll has already topped 1,367, while the number of global cases has risen to over 64,000.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com