Portugal’s pandemic experts hope for meeting with government to plot strategy to normality

Portugal’s panel of pandemic experts – the men and women whose research and know-how has been consulted throughout the Covid crisis – is hoping to meet with members of the government at Infarmed HQ this week, in order to plot a strategy back to normality.

Expresso suggests the starting point will be to ‘throttle back on testing, and the time period to be spent in isolation’.

Mask-wearing, for the time being, is likely to continue in indoor (public) spaces and “places of greatest risk”.

“Without revealing the restrictions with an end in sight”, pneumologist Raquel Duarte told the paper “we should plan the path to normality beginning with testing, for example, limiting it to protecting the most vulnerable and situations of major risk”.

Even though these experts tend to measure their words like gold dust, and refer always to ‘taking things prudently’ and ‘not wanting to be surprised’ by any possible downturn in events, the unavoidable truth is that the SNS health service is at no risk of being overwhelmed by demand due to the pandemic.

Yes, there are other issues at play: crippling staff absences due to policy over isolation which has seen some units forced to close due to lack of personnel. But, as mathematician Óscar Gaspar admits, RT now is below 1, and the so-called red lines in intensive care were never reached.

“Incidence has lost importance”, he insists. “We are on the way down and even if there was a residual risk it will certainly not exceed the safety threshold defined for critical internments.

“The number of new cases is decreasing and relatively fast. We will have very visible improvement in the short-term”, he added.

Thus all eyes now are on when this meeting at Infarmed (medicines authority) can be scheduled.

The government is still some way before being sworn back in, but the PM is still the PM, and decisions clearly need to be made.

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