Portugal’s President Marcelo tests positive for Covid-19

Breaking news this evening is that President Marcelo has tested positive for Covid-19 (see update below).

In the last two weeks of a presidential campaign, and with a crunch meeting with epidemiologists scheduled for tomorrow, the 72-year-old head of State is, for the time being at least, asymptomatic.

He is understood to have cancelled all engagements for the next few days, but means to attend tomorrow’s meeting via video link.

The meeting will be key to defining the terms of the looming national lockdown,

The president’s ‘condition’ was announced shortly after 9.30pm. According to a note posted on the official site of the presidency, he took two tests yesterday (Sunday) – an antigen test which came back negative, and a PCR which gave a positive result this evening.

The news has seen adversaries in the presidential campaign – Marisa Matias, João Ferreira and Ana Gomes – wish him a speedy recovery, while right-wing candidate André Ventura has announced that he will be going into prophylactic isolation and taking a Covid test “for safety”.

Ventura’s decision follows his television face-to-face with Marcelo last Thursday.

Ana Gomes’ debate on Saturday was in fact the last of the series, and for the time being she hasn’t announced any decisions about prophylactic isolation.

The president’s positive tests comes less than 24-hours before RTP was due to host a debate with all seven candidates for the presidency. It’s unclear now whether this will go ahead – either with or without Marcelo.

Monday meantime has been the day in which Portugal registered the highest death count from the virus so far (click here).

UPDATE: Tuesday afternoon sees national media report that the president has taken a new test, and “once again tested negative”. Is he infectious, isn’t he infectious? Will he take part in tonight’s ‘final’ debate of all seven candidates… or won’t he? Can the country take much more of these frantic headlines?

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