Following a key meeting today with experts at Infarmed (medicines authority), both prime minister António Costa and health minister Marta Temido have admitted ‘lockdown’ as the country has been experiencing it since January has to continue.
With no one officially volunteering any kind of roadmap out of the nation’s commercial paralysis, Marta Temido’s responses to journalists today were perhaps the most illuminating.
Say reports, she affirmed that ‘Portugal should continue with the current level of confinement until the middle of March’.
To be fair, Ms Temido did not actually mention a date. She said: “It is quite evident that the current confinement has to be extended for a longer time, starting now during the month of February and then subject to an evaluation but probably for a period that experts today estimated at 60 days from the start”.
This led everyone counting back to mid-January – when the initial lockdown came into place – and realising that 60 days would get us to mid-March.
Quizzed over “eventual alterations to the model of confinement and the gradual lifting of restrictions”, Ms Temido said this “will have to be addressed at a later moment”, referring to resolutions (to come) from the Council of Ministers, and ‘decrees by the President of the Republic’.
PM Costa was equally evasive.
Over Twitter, he simply stressed that “current confinement is producing results against Covid-19, but we need to prolong it due to the elevated levels of the pandemic”.
The secondary message coming out of today’s meeting has been the need to “continue to invest in mass-testing and the capacity to trace” contacts of people found positive.
Mr Costa’s message to the country is that citizens’ confidence in the vaccine appears to have increased, to the point that there seems every likelihood that 70% of the country will take their jabs and thus afford Portugal the chance of ‘herd immunity’.