Pampilhosa da Serra, the country's municipality where virus transmission risk is classified as 'extremely elevated'

Portuguese municipalities at “high” or “very high” risk of infection increase to 29

Very much along lines certain experts have been trying to warn, the virus situation in Portugal is slowly changing for the worse in spite of the country’s exceptional vaccination record.

Municipalities at “high” or “very high” risk of infection this week have increased now to 29, while the municipality at extreme risk (Pampilhosa da Serra) is running with a rolling 14-day average of 1,066 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

That is more than double the situation that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control sees as serious enough to tell people to avoid such areas unless absolutely necessary.

Extreme risk is considered to be any rolling average above 960 cases per 100,000.

Very high risk refers to a rolling average of between 480 and 959.9 cases per 100,000 – which this week has increased from three municipalities to five: three in the north (Penamacor, Penedono, Ponte da Barca), one in the district of Évora (Redondo), one in the district of Santarém (Vila Nova da Barquinha).

High risk refers to municipalities with a rolling 14-day average between 240 and 479.9 cases per 100,000. These have increased in the space of a week from 18 to 24, while lower down the scale municipalities scoring between 120 and 239.9 cases per 100,000 have increased by eight.

Irrespective of all bullish forecasts citing this country’s stellar vaccine coverage for keeping case numbers down, a study conducted by researchers from the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and the Indian Institute of Science suggests there is no discernable relationship between the percentage of the population fully vaccinated and new Covid-19 cases (click here).

Entitled “Increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States”, it goes to a certain extent against advice put out by governments and scientific advisors backed by governments.

The study concludes that the sole reliance on vaccination as a primary strategy to mitigate Covid-19 and its adverse consequences needs to be re-examined:

“In summary, even as efforts should be made to encourage populations to get vaccinated it should be done so with humility and respect. Stigmatizing populations can do more harm than good. Importantly, other non-pharmacological prevention efforts (e.g., the importance of basic public health hygiene with regards to maintaining safe distance or handwashing, promoting better frequent and cheaper forms of testing) needs to be renewed in order to strike the balance of learning to live with COVID-19 in the same manner we continue to live a 100 years later with various seasonal alterations of the 1918 Influenza virus”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com