Misc 02/07/2021

Portugal returns to curfew because of Delta variant

The high infection rate of the coronavirus forces the government to limit nighttime mobility in the 45 most affected municipalities

2 min
A tram running on a Lisbon street

SabadellOn Thursday, the Portuguese government ordered an imposed night curfew in 45 municipalities in the country, including the capital, Lisbon, and the second most populous city, Porto. In total, about four million Portuguese (out of a population of about ten million) are affected by the measure, which prohibits leaving home between 11pm and 5am in localities where the cumulative incidence exceeds 120 cases per 100,000 inhabitants for two weeks.

In the affected municipalities, the measures also include the obligation to telework whenever possible and to close bars, restaurants and cultural facilities at 10.30pm. In addition, in 19 towns (including Lisbon) considered at "very high" risk (with more than 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in fourteen days) the measures are reinforced and restaurants will have to close at 15.30 pm. on weekends. The entry and exit of the metropolitan area of Lisbon has also been banned between this Friday at 3pm and Monday at 6am.

"The situation is serious," warned the Minister of the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva: "We are not in a position to say that the pandemic is under control. It's time to follow the rules, avoid large gatherings, avoid parties and try to contain the numbers".

The worst figures since February

Portugal recorded 2,449 Covid-19 infections on Thursday, the highest figure since February 14th. From March 1st to June 18th, the number of new cases per day had always been below 1,000, but since then there has been a progressive increase that has placed Portugal as the second country in the European Union with the second highest number of cases in relation to the population, only behind Cyprus and just ahead of Spain.

The increase in cases began approximately two weeks after Porto hosted the final of the Champions League which pitted two English teams, Chelsea and Manchester City, against each other. Fans of both teams travelled without restriction, despite the fact that the Delta variant was already widespread in the UK at the time.

The Portuguese government attributes the resurgence to this variant, which is more contagious and is responsible for more than half of the infections in the country. The new infections mainly affect younger people, who have not yet been vaccinated. 31% of Portuguese people have already received the full vaccination schedule, while 55% have at least one dose. This explains why, despite the increase in the number of infections in recent weeks, the number of deaths from covid-19 is still very low: the average is between 3 and 4 per day, while at the end of February there were more than 50.

According to the authorities, on Thursday there were 509 people admitted to Portuguese hospitals (five more than on Wednesday) and 113 in the ICU (seven less). The cumulative incidence for fourteen days is 176 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and the transmission rate (R) stands at 1.15.

Portugal experienced the worst moment of the pandemic at the beginning of the year: on January 28th, more than 16,400 cases of covid were diagnosed and the following day a peak of 303 deaths was reached. Tight restrictions, including strict containment and curfews that sometimes began at midday, brought the numbers down sharply to a very positive level by the end of February. In total, since the beginning of the pandemic, Portugal has detected 882,006 infections and recorded 17,101 deaths due to covid-19.