Specialists defend acceleration of Portugal’s next step towards ‘freedom’

Within hours yesterday of a warning by public health expert Tiago Correia that a ‘step back in the deconfinement process’ might be needed, specialists have come forwards to say exactly the opposite.

The country is on the countdown to municipal elections in 26 days time: a good spin on data can only help PS Socialists already on track to retain their command of local power.

The new push towards reopening was all the more marked in that it became the overriding message on last night’s evening news.

So, moving swiftly on from Tiago Correia’s bottom line yesterday lunchtime (click here), SIC has since published two features suggesting Portugal’s stellar progress when it comes to Covid vaccinations could actually mean the country reopens ahead of the previously established October deadline (click here).

With a nod to undeniable data, the station explains: “In spite of the number of new cases, hospital admissions and deaths remaining on a plateau, with values above those of August last year, the understanding of specialists is that deconfinement has to advance…”

The country entered stage two over a week ahead of schedule (click here). There is no reason for it not to enter stage three the same way (albeit weeks ahead of schedule), particularly as the target of 85% vaccination cover is so close.

Roberto Roncon, a specialist in intensive care chosen to represent the specialist mindset, steered the narrative towards people accepting Covid as “endemic”, and as such the notion of herd immunity – with the Delta variant denting vaccine efficacy – highly unlikely.

On this basis, “we obviously have to reopen society”, he told SIC. “We have to open the economy and try to deal with the virus in a more normal way…”

The economy and the country don’t close down in winter because of the flu, he said, concluding that treating the virus as something endemic in the long run will be “positive”.

Step three in deconfinement will be the moment when bars and discotheques reopen; when restaurants are no longer limited over capacity.

Access however is likely to remain conditioned, with the continued use of negative tests/ Covid Digital Certificates.