Portimão riverside, Ines Lopes

Portugal with incidence level of 67.7 per 100,000; less people in hospital; more recoveries – but Rt still rising

The last 24-hours in Portugal have seen another 752 people ‘recover’ from positive Covid diagnoses, 31 less people in hospital, four less in intensive care –  the active case count has dropped by another 188 people and there are 20 less people under DGS health authority vigilance.

Portugal’s incidence rate (which only hits the government’s red line when it reaches 120 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) is at 77.6 if one takes the autonomous regions of Madeira and Azores into account. The result is even better for the mainland on its own: just 67.7 per 100,000.

But there is one ‘niggling’ negative: the Rt number.

The Rt number cannot go above 1. If it does, the understanding is the virus will once again spiral out of control. In February, for example, the Rt was down to 0.68 – today it is up to 0.91, and the country hasn’t even reached the second phase of deconfinement.

For those who don’t totally understand Rt, it is an indicator of transmission. It’s not ‘the be-all-and-end-all-bring-down-the-curtains-shut-up-the-shop’ on its own, but it shows the impact of the number of new cases on transmission: takes them beyond numbers, in other words.

This is our problem today: the Algarve for example – yesterday the number of new cases was +28; today that has almost doubled (+53), whereas the Alentejo had +20 new cases yesterday, only +6 today.

The Lisbon and Vale do Tejo region has also shown a bounce in the wrong direction: there were +157 new infections yesterday, today’s bulletin is showing +262.

On the basis that it takes time for new cases to develop into serious symptoms, the numbers suggest the country is inching towards forbidden territory – and it’s not even Easter yet.

The daily list of Covid fatalities shows 11 more people have died in the last 24-hours, but the overriding question now will be how to keep opening the country up without exacerbating transmission.

Talk of isolating different regions (depending on their performance) has been discussed in the past (click here) but nothing further appears to have been decided.

The data is being kept under constant review, with the next analysis of Portugal’s ‘matrix of risk’ due on Friday.

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