“We may have to rethink Christmas”, President Marcelo has warned today as the number of new cases registered in the last 24-hour period has hit a new record (1,394) while deaths too are consistently higher than in previous weeks (today’s new total is 12, 11 of whom were over 80 years of age).
While the Algarve continues to dodge the worst of the pandemic, the truth is authorities are beginning to ‘panic’ somewhat.
“We are now in a period that is only comparable in gravity to that which was experienced in early spring”, said Marcelo during a visit to Braga hospital. “It’s a very serious period”, he added stressing “it was understood that the number of cases would exceed a 1000 (per day) when the economy opened up, along with schools, universities and socialising between people. We hope it doesn’t last long, and that it doesn’t increase much”.
But authorities “have the notion, looking at other countries around us” that the current situation could continue for “weeks and months. And we have to live with it”.
Said the head of state who has always stressed the need for transparency: “it means on one hand that we have to take measures”.
The current phase of Portugal’s ‘State of Contingency’ ends on October 15, at which point the government “will review the situation and the measures to adopt vis-a-vis the numbers of the last few days, and forecasts for the following two weeks…”
“If we have to rethink Christmas with the family, we will rethink it. It can’t be with 100 family members. Christmas may well have to be ‘divided’… Whatever measures are adopted, the Portuguese people need to abide by them”, said Marcelo. “None of us what to stop the economy and increase unemployment. But we need to be conscientious and comply with the rules brought in”.
It’s fairly clear that what’s happening now is a kind of ‘drip-drip’ of information, leading the population up to accepting new restrictions.
At today’s DGS health authority press conference where the latest numbers were given, health direction Graça Freitas stressed that 67% of cases resulted from ‘family confraternization’: baptisms, weddings, parties – occasions where people remove their masks to eat.
“We appeal for the collaboration of everyone”, said the medical expert who has been the face of the Portuguese health authority since the start of the pandemic. “We are not in 2019”, she added. “It is up to all of us to counter the trend of dissemination of the virus in Portugal”.
Discussion of likely new measures to come is almost certain now to be the ‘hot media topic’ of the weekend.