With confusing reports today suggesting Portugal ‘could lift the requirement on citizens to wear masks once 70% of the country has reached herd immunity’, under secretary of state for health António Lacerda Sales has stressed nothing of the kind is under consideration.
Tabloid Correio da Manhã ran with the hopeful headline this morning: “7.2 million drop mask in August”.
The body of the text suggested that ‘experts’ believe mask wearing could stop being obligatory once herd immunity has been attained.
But it soon became clear that CM was being a little bit ambitious.
The reality is that in the United States, the CDC (Centre for Disease Protection and Control) has said that Americans can stop wearing masks once they have received both shots of their vaccine.
“Various specialists in Portugal” are in favour of the decision, but equally others aren’t – particularly epidemiologist Manuel Carmo Gomes who stresses there are still so many ‘doubts’ in the air, not least the possibility of ever reaching ‘herd immunity’ (click here).
“There have been cases of new infections, principally in elderly people, after they have received their vaccinations”, he explained. “This has to be studied. If vaccinated people can become infected, can they transmit? If they can, the masks have to continue”.
In this context, António Lacerda Sales stressed today that Portugal is “not considering a waiver on the use of a mask by people vaccinated against Covid-19”.
“We have taken the decision that even after vaccination people should keep wearing masks, keep maintaining physical distance and maintain compliance with DGS directives”, he told Lusa.
An unexplained loophole in the notion that people could stop wearing masks after vaccination is how could authorities differentiate between the vaccinated and unvaccinated without stopping every single person not wearing a mask and demanding proof that they had in fact been vaccinated?
Meantime, today’s Covid bulletin has shown a new drop in the numbers of people being treated for the virus in hospitals, although the seven deaths in the last 24-hours were a higher death-toll than than the country has seen for well over two weeks.