SIC television news is reporting today that Portugal’s creches, pre-school and primary schools will come before Easter.
Just as ‘experts’ are concluding that falling virus numbers could well reach ‘certain criterias for deconfinement during March’, SIC claims to know definitively that the first to go back will be the youngest, with tests for Covid-19 offered to teachers and non-teaching staff.
“With numbers falling and the pressure (to reopen schools) increasing” these schools will be reopening in March, says the station, with the exact date yet to revealed.
Says SIC, “the decision has already been taken”, and is based on ‘technical criteria elaborated and discussed by a commission created by the government”.
The reopening will be accompanied by screening (testing) of all staff and teachers. Initially “a day or two before the schools reopen” and then “depending on the incidence of cases of infection in the boroughs”.
No-one is kidding themselves that in reopening even this segment of education Portugal’s numbers will ‘stay the same’. They will undoubtedly increase – which is why decisions are seeming to ‘take so long’.
But according to Público, the speed with which numbers of patients in hospital are now falling could well mean the country is ready to start reopening mid-March, instead of ‘post-Easter’. (This seems to have been corroborated by the announcement later in the day by prime minister António Costa that the government will be presenting its plan for ‘deconfinement’ on March 11).
Projections by Nova IMS (Lisbon’s New University Information Management School) and business association COTEC Portugal, see the Rt (transmission) number below 0.7 by the middle of March. This will mean roughly 140 new cases of Covid-19 per day (we’re currently running with over 1,000).
Says Público, ‘roughly 140’ is the level at which Nova IMS and COTEC believe society can start reopening “with safety”.