Portuguese PM warns restrictions could revert as COVID cases increase

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General view inside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination center in Seixal, Portugal, September 11, 2021. REUTERS / Pedro Nunes

LISBON, Nov. 16 (Reuters) – Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Tuesday that authorities in one of the most vaccinated countries in the world may resume some measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 as the Christmas holidays approach. end of the year as infections soar across Europe.

The number of new cases has gradually increased over the past month in Portugal, reaching a two-month daily high of 1,816 infections on Saturday.

The 14-day infection rate stood at 156 cases per 100,000 people on Monday, about double that of neighboring Spain, which has a slightly lower share of its population fully vaccinated, but still well below over 500 in Germany and over 900 in the Netherlands. .

“We must try to act now so that we can reach Christmas time with less fear,” Costa told reporters on the sidelines of an event in central Portugal. “The later we act, the greater the risks.”

Government ministers are expected to meet with health experts on Friday to assess the situation and only then will decide what rules to impose. Costa said the measures would only be applied when “strictly necessary”.

About 86% of Portugal’s population of just over 10 million is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It has reported around 1.1 million cases and 18,265 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The country faced its toughest battle against COVID-19 in January, forcing authorities to impose strict lockdown measures, which have since been lifted.

Costa said the government was unlikely to reinstate a lockdown and the new measures would aim to “disrupt people’s lives as little as possible.”

Wearing a mask is still mandatory in public transport, shopping malls and large gatherings. The EU’s COVID-19 digital certificate is required to enter nightclubs and major events, as well as for travel.

Reporting by Catarina Demony and Patrícia Vicente Rua; Editing by Andrei Khalip

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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