Archive for January, 2021

STATEMENT BY THE STATE AND PRESIDENCY MINISTER MARIANA VIERA DA SILVA

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

STATE OF EMERGENCY

STATEMENT BY THE STATE AND PRESIDENCY MINISTER MARIANA VIERA DA SILVA

State and Presidency Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva presented a set of new measures to combat the covid-19 pandemic at a press conference of the Council of Ministers this Thursday.

The Minister announces that all rules and restrictions remain “broadly” in force, but that others have been added. These are the rules and restrictions:

  • The suspension of teaching activities continues until 5 February and on 8 February “a period of distance learning begins”.
  • Limitation to travel outside the territory by any means for Portuguese citizens.
  • Reinstatement of control of persons at land borders.
  • – The possibility for NHS health establishments to exceptionally hire medical and nursing graduates from abroad for up to one year.

Schools will remain closed until 5 February. Classes will start again on the 8th, but at home, as in the first confinement. The Minister of State and Presidency also confirmed the suspension of travel out of Portugal for the next 15 days.

“The situation is very serious. In recent days there has been an increase in cases and deaths,” said Mariana Vieira da Silva. The press conference was also attended by Education Minister Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, who confirmed that schools would remain closed until 5 February.

On the following Monday, 8 February, classes will resume, but at home, and that the rules that were approved in July 2020 will apply. The government will “maintain therapeutic support and additional measures for students with special needs” as well as meals for students in the A and B brackets. “Yesterday alone, 20,000 meals were provided by the schools,” the minister said. With the return of school from a distance, the children of essential services workers will have their schools open, as is currently the case. “On average, these days we had two thousand students in the host schools”, explained Tiago Brandão Rodrigues. Local early childhood intervention teams and child and youth protection committees will also continue to operate.

On the preparation of distance learning, the minister says that work has been done in this direction and has used the example of the teleschool, in the “RTP Memória” channel.

Day care centres, said Mariana Vieira da Silva, will continue to be closed for the next fortnight. With regard to exams and assessment tests, the minister of education assumed that there were still no set dates and that a final decision was dependent on the evolution of the pandemic.

Measures will be re-evaluated every 15 days to determine whether there is a possibility of reopening classes to some students.

On Carnival day, the minister did not anticipate whether there would be a day-off for the Civil Service, but said that there would not be the usual celebrations.

The Minister of Education explains that online classes start for all levels of education. “The three days of the Carnival break, the 15th, 16th and 17th of February are days of teaching activities”. During the Easter holidays, at least 25 and 26 March “will be days of teaching activities”. “At the end of the school year” there will also be an adjustment.

Eduardo Cabrita, Minister for Internal Administration, announced that “by decision within the framework of a national strategy, the government will adopt a measure to limit travel abroad for the next 15 days of national citizens in order to protect national citizens and contribute to limiting contagion”. The restrictions apply to “air, water and land travel of national citizens in the next fortnight”, he added.

Eduardo Cabrita also said that the government would contribute to “the European decision to limit flights between risk areas throughout the European Union and to require testing and quarantine by articulated decision at European level,” without specifying countries.

The Minister of the Presidency said that the ban on citizens’ departure seemed to be a “good example” and explained that what is happening is a “border control”. “It is not a total closure of borders. It is an arrival check”.

She said “we are not in a position to ease any restrictive measures that exist” to justify why the government has decided to maintain the restrictions that already exist in this renewed state of emergency. Mariana Vieira da Silva also said that what the decree does is to empower the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Internal Administration to ban flights to countries. In other words, there is no fixed list of countries.

Humanitarian flights are part of the exceptions to the different circulation restrictions that have been defined, the minister said.

From mid-February, the government will assess “all measures, including the closure of schools”, the minister says. She also explains that the measures on land borders are “in all respects similar” to those in the first confinement.

Regarding the reinforcement for the SNS, the minister said that on foreign doctors the government estimates that there are around 160 doctors licensed abroad and that they meet conditions to be hired under this exceptional regime which aims to give the government the possibility of “hiring as many” professionals as possible.

The extra work of doctors, nurses and operational assistants is also better paid, explained.

COVID-19. FALSE VACCINES FOR SALE ON THE INTERNET ARE A GREAT HEALTH RISK UN WARNS

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

The dark web offers fake vaccines with the names of different pharmaceutical companies, with prices ranging from $ 120 ($ 98.4) to over $ 1,000.

Although millions of people have already been vaccinated against covid-19 in rich countries, online fraud abounds with fake drugs that pose a major health risk, warned United Nations experts.

Internet fraud has skyrocketed because there is a demand that is not met by legal means and the rush or despair of some people to become immunized leads them to the illegal market, writes the agency Efe.

The dark web offers fake vaccines with the names of different pharmaceutical companies, with prices ranging from $ 120 ($ 98.4) to over $ 1,000.

These products, if any, may contain toxic material that is very harmful to health.

“I believe that many of these vaccines do not exist at all: It is a fraud in the strict sense. If you buy, you get nothing. It is a very easy way to try to make money,” Neil Walsh, the United Nations’ leading expert on cybercrime, told Efe. .

“And if you get something, you can be sure that it won’t be the real vaccine. At best it will be a placebo and at worst it may have harmful chemicals,” said Walsh, director of the agency’s cybercrime program. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNIDO).

Even in the unlikely event that it was a package of stolen authentic vaccines, it was certainly not kept in sanitary conditions for its use – like the cold chain – stressed the expert.

Walsh said he never encountered authentic vaccines in the Web underworld, although he acknowledged that his department needs the means to track all angles in depth.

Many of these frauds with fake or non-existent products are not just intended to earn a few hundred dollars, but to access something much more valuable: the personal data of buyers.

“One of the easiest products to sell in the cybercriminal world is personal data. If someone has your email, name, date of birth, address and phone number, all of that data together is very useful for criminals looking to take over your identity, “he said.

In addition to fraud, Walsh’s concern is misinformation and the negative effects that these fake drugs can have when generating doubts about authentic vaccines.

The advice: never buy these vaccines on the internet and use common sense.

“If neither governments were able to access vaccines or buy them, how did I find one on the net?”, summed up the UN expert.

The problem with counterfeit drugs predates the pandemic. UNODD has been denouncing for years that organized crime earns billions of dollars from selling fake drugs.

About 80% of these fraudulent drugs are sold in developing countries in Africa and Asia, the majority coming from Asia.

A 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) investigation found that one in 10 drugs in developing countries was counterfeit, which was behind the deaths of tens of thousands of people each year.

“Covid has given a boost to the fake drug market, not only because there is now more, but also because it has opened up new markets, like the western one, where you can earn a lot of money,” Angela Me, chief research and analysis researcher, explained to Efe at UNIDO.

The expert said that organized crime always takes advantage of the gap between supply and demand.

And he recalled that fraud with basic sanitary products proliferated in the spring because they were scarce, but as the legal industry covered the need, the decoys disappeared.

Reported by SIC Read here  

FIRST PREGNANT WOMAN IN PORTUGAL HAVING TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 – 9 MONTHS LATER AFTER BIRTH

Monday, January 25th, 2021

A GOOD NEWS STORY

Manuel, Manel for his parents, is now 9 months old. Or rather, 7. He was born at 29 weeks, on March 27, 15 days after his mother found out she was positive for covid-19. The father had been the first to test positive, but both felt good and had almost no symptoms. The SARS-CoV-2 virus that took the world in an unexpected way, also broke into the lives of Maria Lucena and her husband Francisco.

She was the first pregnant woman to become infected with the disease, when there was still almost no talk of cases in Portugal. “I was very anxious. It was right at the beginning of the pandemic, it was still unknown, even for doctors, and nobody knew very well how to deal with me and even what consequences it could have for the baby. The doctors said that, from the start, there would be no consequences. , but there were no certainties. I was afraid, very afraid, “she tells DN today with complete confidence and as if nothing had happened to him.

She says to be like this: “I am a calm, calm person. Until that time I had no problem, I always worked non-stop”. Then, from March 10, everything was different. “My husband had gone on a snow holiday in Switzerland with a group of friends in early March. When he returned he learned that a friend of the friends with whom they had been in a bar was positive. He had no symptoms, but he was worried and called the SNS line. They came home early to take the test. The next day we found out he was positive. ”

The life of Maria and Francisco, both 35 years old, changed here and suddenly. She went to her parents’ house, she felt good, but on the 13th she was tested and the result was also positive. “I had no symptoms, I realized that I had no smell or taste, but it was only for two or three days, which happens when I have a cold. At the time, not much was said about these symptoms”.

When she found out, she was anxious she confesses, then scared, for the reasons she already mentioned, but tried to stay calm for the baby. Everything got worse days later when she realized she was about to give birth. “I called my doctor and he immediately told me to attend the hospital. The baby was 30 weeks old, was being followed up in privately, but I had to go to Maternidade Alfredo da Costa [MAC], when there was still fear, an unknown virus was being dealt with. They touched me and realized that her waters had broken.”

At the time, Maria Lucena admits that she did not even know that premature babies, with Manel’s number of weeks, did not even have complete lung maturation. He had to take three injections to speed up this maturation, but on March 25, two days after being hospitalized, they had to cause her give birth, Manel had to be born by caesarean section. “I went into labour on the 26th, but I wasn’t doing the dilation, on the 27th I was tested and realized that I was getting a slight infection and decided to have a caesarean.”

The moment had come, but so different than I had imagined. At his side, there was no Francisco, who had previously both decided that he would be present at the birth, nor any other family member, the pandemic did not allow it. “I was always alone. It was not easy”, she says, and here the voice lets out her sadness.

Manel was born and she couldn’t even feel him on her chest, something that today any pregnant woman imagines she will feel, that she will be able to do. “They took him to neonatology. I only saw him 15 days after he was born”, but the fear that he might reach the positive world for covid-19 has not been confirmed. “They did two tests and it was always negative.”

Maria Lucena was well after the birth and was discharged almost immediately. “I felt great, I thought I was no longer positive, but I still was. I had the virus for over a month and they only let me see Manel when I was negative.” She went home, Manel stayed in the neonatology at MAC, where he says “he was treated very well”. It was worth it, as was “the nurses who were always with me. They had to change every four hours because of the protective suits. They were impeccable, if it weren’t for them it would have been even more difficult”, he says. More difficult because of the situation, the pandemic, the fact that I was unable to have visitors and because it was at the beginning. “There were a lot of doubts. Today I think it is different, although I think it is not good to be pregnant and have a baby in the middle of a pandemic.”

Maria and Francisco were not even able to enlist the help of their parents or friends to get used to the routine of being parents. “We were always alone, as if we were in a cocoon. We only went out when it was essential. Manel left after a week of being at home to go to the pediatrician, then he left again after two months, when he had already completed three, but as soon as the pediatrician said he could start going out, I started going around with him. ”

At that time, there was no anxiety, Maria was a mother and as she says, “I am a calm and peaceful person”. Today laughter jumps out when he pronounces the name of his first child: “Manel was a miracle in the year 2020.” When asked who he would be grateful for this year 2020, he says without hesitation: “Ao Manel”, for having fought too. “He looks great, he doesn’t even look like a premature baby. We try to live a very normal life within the restrictions and with all the care. Manel is at home, I already started working and we had to hire a lady to stay with him.”

Manel’s first Christmas was also not as they had imagined before. “The family cannot be all together, it was very different from what it used to be.” But 2020 ended and for 2021, Maria and her husband only wish that “Manel is well”. “I have hope for vaccines, but I don’t know if they are going to get everything resolved as quickly as we would like, but I hope that this pandemic has served to make people realize that we have to think more and more about the whole and not individually.”

 

 

 

European recovery must be based on the drivers of climate and digital transitions

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Prime Minister António Costa said that “European recovery must be based on the drivers of climate and digital transitions”, during the presentation of the priorities of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In Brussels, at the plenary session of the European Parliament, António Costa underlined the three priorities for the semester to be led by Portugal: economic and social recovery in Europe, development of the social pillar and strengthening of strategic autonomy.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the success of the vaccination process is “the first condition for economic recovery”, but added that it is necessary to implement in parallel the various instruments of economic and social recovery, such as the Next Generation EU and the programs of the new Quaro Multiannual Financial (Horizonte Europa, EU4Health and Erasmus +).

António Costa also stressed that “the European Ecological Pact is urgent” and added that “combating climate change must be a transversal objective of all Union policies”, assuming the approval of the new Climate Law as one of the “main objectives politicians”.

“This is also the decade of Digital Europe. A day without betting on digital is yet another day of delay in this demanding competition on a global scale in which Europe must be at the forefront”, he assumed, referring that the Portuguese presidency will“ pay particular attention to the new Digital Services Package”. This package will be “fundamental for the protection of individual rights and democratic sovereignty, and to bring greater competition to the digital market, stimulating entrepreneurship and creativity”.

The Prime Minister reiterated that the “recovery cannot be limited to responding to the needs of the present with stimulus of the conjuncture, but with investments and reforms” that allow a more resilient, greener and more digital European Union.

Implementation of the European Union’s Social Pillar

António Costa said that the realization of the social pillar has three fundamental axes: reinforcing the qualifications so that citizens are actors and not victims of climate and digital transitions; investing more in innovation to strengthen the competitiveness of companies; and strengthening social protection to ensure that no one is left behind.

The organization of a Social Summit in Porto, in May, will aim to «give a strong political impulse to the Action Plan that the Commission will present in March and which materializes the ambition expressed by citizens to put into practice the 20 general principles proclaimed in Gothenburg”.

“The development of the social pillar is fundamental to give Europeans confidence that the changes we are experiencing are not a threat, but, on the contrary, an opportunity”, he added, stressing that “materializing the social pillar is the best vaccine against inequalities, fear and populism”.

Strategic autonomy of a European Union open to the world

The third priority of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union has the objective of reducing dependence on the supply of essential goods by third parties and of reducing value chains that have a high risk of interruption, without thereby becoming too protectionist.

“The strengthening of strategic autonomy means a Europe that is a global player, valuing the social and environmental standards that distinguish and make us proud”, he said, underlining the objectives of strengthening “neighbuorhood partnerships, East and South, and partnership with the African continent, and relations with the United Kingdom, the United States and Latin America ”.

The Prime Minister also stressed the intention to “promote a closer and strategic partnership” with India and highlighted the summit scheduled for May, in Porto, which will be “centered on cooperation in the field of digital, trade and investment, pharmaceuticals, science and space ».

António Costa also stressed the importance of “continuing to work on the new Pact for Migration and Asylum, trying to find the right balance between its internal and external dimensions, without forgetting also legal migration”.

At the press conference after the plenary session, attended by the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, António Costa welcomed the “great consensus found on the main priorities of the presidency Portuguese ».

“I leave here with the confidence that, in the face of all difficulties, there is very strong political support given the priorities of this presidency,” he added.

Fighting the pandemic “is a very tough marathon”

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

The fight against the Covid-19 pandemic “is yet to last for many long months, because, until we reach the collective immunization of society, we will not overcome the pandemic”, said Prime Minister António Costa, adding that this immunization “only it will be reached when 60 to 70% of the population is immunized, or because, unfortunately, it has been infected, or because it has been vaccinated”.

The Prime Minister, who answered questions from deputies in the Assembly of the Republic, said that, at present, “we are living in a most sad moment, of greatest pain and suffering”.

António Costa reiterated that the fight against the pandemic “is a marathon and a very hard marathon”, despite the hope created by the vaccine. “For many months that the vaccination process takes, there is a way to reach the end of the tunnel”. There are “thousands of health professionals who have already taken their second dose and are already definitely vaccinated”, he said.

Capacity is not unlimited

At the same time, it is necessary to “continue to increase the response capacity of the National Health Service”, which “has been able to respond to the moments of greatest need in a progressive way”, pointing out that “in mid-October, 1424 beds were affected by Covid at the end of November it had been extended to 3545 beds, today we have 5795 beds occupied with Covid patients and we still have the capacity for extension ».

The Prime Minister pointed to the case of hundreds of people who were abandoned in hospitals because they had nowhere to go, for whom “it was possible to find decent accommodation”, which “made us have these beds available today”.

Another example is the entry, “tomorrow, in operation of the field hospital of the Estádio Universitário de Lisboa” and of the Casa dos Atletas “to serve as a backup for care that does not require hospitalization”. Third example, is the «38 signed conventions, with beds made available by the social sector and also by the private sector».

“But we all know that the extension capacity is not unlimited”, because beds or fans are not enough – “which we almost doubled since March” -, “human resources are needed”, he said.

It is also necessary “to increase the prevention effort, which means: more tests, more screening, less delay in the identification and breaking of contagion chains”. If “it is important to increase the number of beds, it is more important to increase the number of crawlers that will allow us to speed up epidemiological investigations and testing”.

 

Keep the rules

However, “if everyone is not careful to protect their health and that of those around them, we will not be able to stop the pandemic”, he said, stressing that, in the previous waves, “the Portuguese have already demonstrated that they can”.

António Costa recalled that «the Portuguese were extraordinary in March, after the summer, when it was necessary to break the second wave and we managed to do it until Christmas. And these are the same Portuguese, despite the accumulated tiredness, the added difficulties, because there are more people who have lost jobs and income, who, I am sure, will mobilize to catch the third wave”.

Affirming that the Government fought, “with great national consensus, so that, at all costs, we avoid a new general confinement, because we are all aware of what the cost is”, reiterated that he will “always take the measures that in each moment justify themselves, with common sense and balance, doing everything necessary, but nothing more than necessary ».

So, for example, what the Council of Ministers did yesterday “was because of what we were seeing happening” – because when the takeaway was authorized, the appearance of improvised terraces was not authorized – “and that demanded an immediate response” .

Systematic testing in schools

António Costa announced that, starting with the extreme risk municipality, «tomorrow, we will start a systematic campaign of rapid tests, in all schools, to reinforce security».

The Government decided to “keep schools open because it knows the enormous social cost of closing them”, since “there is no distance learning, however good it is, that ensures the quality of classroom teaching”.

The Prime Minister said that the objective is “not to disturb, for the second consecutive school year, the education of new generations. Today we know with certainty that the closure of public schools, that the absence of face-to-face education aggravates inequalities and irreversibly impairs learning ».

“The easiest thing was to close the schools, because the cost of this decision is not immediate, unlike the cost of closing the trade, but it will be paid 10 or 20 years from now. We have 5400 public schools and only 13 are closed by outbreaks – and whenever there is an outbreak, the health authority will shut them down” he said, adding that “we have 1.14 million students in schools and we have 39,000 students confined”

Preserving yields

It is also necessary to “fight the battle for the preservation of income, preventing poverty from increasing, inequalities from worsening, protecting jobs and businesses, and the unemployed, so that everyone feels that, however difficult this moment may be, they don’t we will leave no one behind, ”said António Costa.

The Prime Minister said that “the country will have lost, last year, about 15 billion euros of national wealth. Support for employment, business and the economy as a whole was 22 billion euros. Of course, it is not enough – when we are supporting 20% ​​of billing losses, 80% is still missing – but it means an extraordinary mobilization of national resources to support as much as possible ».

The Portuguese should not have “illusions that we will leave the pandemic without wounds and scars”. But they must concentrate “that we are really going to get out of the pandemic, we are going to heal the wounds and assimilate the scars. This takes time, but we will make it, ”he said.

 

PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCES REVISED STATE OF EMERGENCY MEASURES

Monday, January 18th, 2021

Prime Minister António Costa has just announced the new confinement measures, which follow an extraordinary Council of Ministers meeting this Monday.

The date of entry into force of the new rules is not yet clear. The government is finalising the decree, which it then sends to the President.

Costa said that three days of confinement was a short period, but data on mobility showed a 30% reduction in movements. “It is not acceptable to maintain this level of movement at the weekend,” he said, thanking the population that followed the rules.

“The moment we are living is the most serious moment of this pandemic. Even today another 167 people have died.”, he said.

“Every day we beat the record number of infected, hospitalized and, above all, dead. And there is no life that can be recovered, that is not an evil that we should cause anyone. And that depends on each one of us,” said Costa, who called for a “civic awakening” to fight the pandemic.

This time, the following measures are added:

  • A ban on weekend travel between municipalities is reinstated;
  • All establishments of all types must close at 20h00 during the week and 13h00 on weekends. The exception is food retailing which on weekends can operate until 17h00;
  • The sale at the door on any non-food establishment, such as clothing shops, will be prohibited;
  • The sale at the door of any kind of beverage, even coffee, is prohibited;
  • The presence and consumption of food outside or in the vicinity of establishments is prohibited;
  • All restaurants in shopping centres are closed, even if they are take-away;
  • Sales and discounts promoting the movement of people are forbidden;
  • It is forbidden for people to stay in public spaces such as gardens. They can be frequented, but they cannot be places to spend time at;
  • Municipalities are asked to limit access to areas that invite concentration of people, such as river margins (“marginais”, “ribeiras”), including spaces to play tennis or “pádel”;
  • Senior universities, day centres and community centres are closed;
  • Travel for on-site work will require a written declaration from the employer;
  • In the next 48 hours companies with more than 250 employees must send the Authority for Working Conditions (ACT) the nominal list of all employees whose in-person work they consider indispensable.

 

António Costa also announced that the Government had decided to strengthen the supervision of the Authority for Working Conditions (ACT) and the security forces. The Government asks for “greater visibility” of the presence on public roads of the Public Security Police (PSP), particularly near schools, in order to act as a deterrent.

On vaccination, Costa said that there are conditions for “better management of the stock” of vaccines, accelerating vaccination in nursing homes. The first dose in all nursing homes should be completed next week, he said.

There is no reason today to be less afraid of the virus than the fear we had in March last year,” said Costa, who showed confidence in health professionals and security forces, which will strengthen surveillance. The government and the President of the Republic will not hesitate to take the necessary measures in the fight against the pandemic, he said, adding, however, that “each one of us” has a decisive role in the fight against the pandemic.

“This is not the time for birthday parties, for dinners of friends or family. This is not the time to take advantage of the loopholes in the law, to find the exception,” he said.

“Nobody can be imprudent to think that the virus only affects others,” he said.

Costa, however, expressed some hope when he recalled that already in previous moments it was possible to lower the numbers with the measures applied.

In his answers to journalists, Costa did not want to comment on criticisms from the other political parties because this was not the time. Asked about schools, the leader of the executive insisted that he will not hesitate to reinforce the measures but that he will always try to affect people’s lives as little as possible.

“We cannot always be waiting for the other. We can’t always wait for the other person, for the police to fine us, for the government to forbid us”. “We have to count on ourselves,” he said.

Costa said that after-school recreation centres (ATLs), like support centres for families (CAFs), remain in operation.

Concerning borders, he stated that coordination is being done at European level.

The Prime Minister said that the early vote “went well,” and said that there were “municipalities where there was bad organisation,” although there were others where the organisation went well.

Costa also said that the law on the state of emergency prohibited restrictions on political activity. Neither the President’s decree nor the Government’s law could introduce any limitation on political activity. It will be up to each candidate and candidate to organise their campaign in the way best suited to the circumstances of the pandemic. And the Portuguese will judge”.

António Costa leaves the door open for the civil health requisition. “It will be used if and when necessary,” said the government leader, pointing out that the law already allows this, even outside the state of emergency. However, he noted that the government has always preferred agreement rather than imposition and stressed that the private sector and the social sector have collaborated. “We have not had any situation where there was no alternative to the requisition”.

He also said that on election day it will be allowed to circulate between municipalities to vote, admitting, however, that there will be few cases of people.

 

 

Covid-19: Situation “absolutely unsustainable” in healthcare – Public Health Doctors

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

Lisbon, January 17, 2021 (Lusa) – The president of the National Association of Public Health Doctors, Ricardo Mexia, considered this Saturday “absolutely unsustainable” the situation currently experienced in Portugal in the provision of health care in the context of the pandemic of the covid-19 .

“What is happening in the provision of care is absolutely unsustainable, it is a dramatic situation. I think that is the possible description “, said the doctor in statements to the Lusa agency..

On the day that Portugal registered two new daily records related to the covid-19 pandemic – 166 deaths and 10,947 new cases of infection with the new coronavirus, in 24 hours – some hospitals warned that they were breaking.

The Garcia de Orta Hospital (HGO), in Almada, today had a total of 169 patients with covid-19, of whom 18 were in intensive care, with the hospital unit admitting a “pre-catastrophe scenario”, if the situation remains.

The director of the Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Norte (CHULN), Daniel Ferro, said that the Santa Maria hospital is “under strain” and that adapting to the peak of care “has limits”, working beyond the installed capacity.

For the president of the National Association of Public Health Doctors, “it is not surprising that there is de facto pressure”.

“What happens is that we are reaching an unsustainable level and that has a lot to do with what has been happening,” he said.

Although the country is at the beginning of a new confinement, “the reality is that in practice, looking at the street and seeing what is going on, there is indeed a great mobilization of people on the street, etc.” and “it ends up being difficult to fight the pandemic with this situation”, he considered.

“I hope that despite that there may be a reduction [in numbers], but it will take time for this to happen, as we know that these infections that are emerging now are infections that happened maybe a week ago,” he said. .

For Ricardo Mexia, this “huge pressure on health services” “has to do with that volume of new cases that occurred at the beginning of the year” and this pressure will continue for a few days.

“I fear that mortality will worsen even more,” he also said.

The doctor warns that “everyone warned that it was important not to create a feeling here that everything was resolved, and therefore, people ended up having a lot more contacts at Christmas and New Year’s Eve”.

In addition, “it was important to have reinforced the means in time for when they needed to be able to work, so it was important to have planned this response”.

“And now, here we are running after the loss, only that it is a high loss and very difficult to contain it, it is an avoidable situation and now we will have to quickly push these numbers down”, he considered.

The doctor considers that “even more than the restrictive questions, which may have their role, the reinforcement of the means, the improvement in communication and the clarity with which things are said, this can certainly improve”.

“It should have improved before, but we still have time to correct it, so that we can be more assertive and clearer, to try to push this situation downwards, in order to achieve greater sustainability in what is our answer. , but in fact it will be difficult weeks, ”he said.

In Portugal, 8,543 people died from 528,469 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to the most recent bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.

Twelve differences between confinement compared to March last year

Friday, January 15th, 2021

The rules of the new confinement, which started this Friday, have many similarities to what was enacted in March, but there are at least 12 differences to take into account. Expresso has listed these.

1 – SCHOOLS

The big difference. Students of all levels of education will continue to attend classes, escaping the distance learning regime applied in March. Day care centres also continue to function.

2 – SHOPPING CENTERS

They do not close all stores, as they did last year. It is, therefore, possible to go to spaces such as opticians, cosmetic products establishments, medical and orthopaedic products establishments, natural and diet products stores, stationery and tobacconists, flower sales, washing and dry cleaning of clothes.

3 – SUPERMARKETS

This time, no time limit was imposed, contrary to what happened in the first confinement, when these spaces were forced to close their doors earlier. Besides, they are part of the exceptions, as in March.

4 – MARKETS AND FAIRS

These workers can keep their stalls functioning, as long as they sell goods considered essential. Marketers were forced to close in March, but are now allowed to continue the business within this scope. The markets were, however, allowed to operate in the last confinement: in fact, some even adopt the home delivery service, as happened with the Benfica market in Lisbon.

5 – SHOPS IN TAKEAWAY

Forced to close, clothing stores and other goods considered non-essential can sell their products in a takeaway regime, such as restaurants. In this case, customers can pick up orders at the door, but they cannot enter stores.

6 – MASSES

The differences that occur between the two confinements in relation to religious celebrations do not arise from differences in the measures decreed by the Government, but from the decision of the Church itself. In other words, in March, it was the Portuguese Episcopal Conference that decided to suspend masses and other celebrations, since the Government left this decision in its hands. Now, the executive of António Costa repeated the decision and the Church decided to keep the celebration of masses and suspend baptisms and weddings.

7 – FUNERALS

In the case of funerals, the rules are not very different, since the obligation to set a limit on people remains to be defined – to be defined by the municipality. However, there is a new indication that was not considered in March: the limit of gifts cannot preclude the presence of “the spouse or de facto partner, ascendants, descendants, relatives or the like”.

8 – MEDICAL OFFICES

Dental medicine was one of the sectors that suffered a strong impact with the measures of the first confinement, but dental clinics may, starting this Friday continue. Also now included in the list of exceptions are medical services offices or other health and social support services and veterinary medical care centres.

 

9 – COURTS

During the first confinement, only urgent cases were processed and, in more than three months, more than nine thousand trials were postponed and less than three thousand trials were carried out. Now, the scenario will be different, with the courts with open doors to judge all cases. The Ministry of Justice wants to ensure that, this time, there are no procedural delays and, therefore, urgent and non-urgent cases will be tried. Face-to-face service in the courts will continue to be provided, as long as previously scheduled.

10 – SPORTS

The gyms and all physical exercise spaces are closed, similar to what happened in March, but it is now possible to play tennis or paddle tennis, as long as it is on an outdoor field. The practice of these sports on indoor fields is prohibited, except for high performance athletes.

11 – BORDERS

The border with Spain will not be closed, as happened between March and July last year.

12 – FINES

These are double. The new regime leaves behind fines between 100 and 500 euros and comes up with values ​​that can reach 1,000 euros for those who do not wear a mask on the street and in mandatory places.

 

Source Expresso. Original article here

PRIME MINISTERS ADDRESS TO THE NATION EXTENSION OF STATE OF EMERGENCY

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

“The Council of Ministers has decided that from 00h01 on the 15th (Meaning all day 15th) the duty to remain at home will return to Portugal in general”, announced António Costa.

“The exceptions that already existed in March and April will remain,” he noted.

We are living in a “more dangerous” moment, but also one of “greater hope”: this is how António Costa began his speech announcing the measures for the new confinement that will begin this Thursday. Recalling the high number of deaths in recent days, Costa warned of the relaxation that accompanied the arrival of the vaccine.

António Costa said that the new measures are limited to the duty to “stay at home”. “There is no tiredness that allows us to take on this collective pain of continuing to have over 100 deaths a day, it is not acceptable and we have to stop this. The key message of the decisions we take is to return to the duty of home collection, as we did in March and April when we successfully stopped the first wave. Let us not focus on the exception, but on the rule. The rule is simple: each of us must stay at home”.

The Prime Minister said that we must “stop the growth of the pandemic, save lives, crush the curve, protect the NHS, support health professionals and that the Portuguese help each other”.

António Costa said that the Portuguese will still be able to go to the grocery store or work when they need to, but the golden rule is “stay at home”. “It’s up to each one of us to collect ourselves in order to protect others and ourselves. Only then will we succeed in fighting the pandemic,” he said.

António Costa stressed the need to “not sacrifice the current generation of students” again in this new confinement. That is why all educational establishments continue to operate.

“We cannot repeat the same rule again this year and therefore, with the precautions that have made the school safe, we will keep schools functioning. This is truly the only new and relevant exception”, António Costa said.

Teleworking will be compulsory wherever possible. Fines for those who do not follow the rules will be doubled

António Costa said that there had been no compliance with the rules on compulsory teleworking whenever it was possible and that the measures now announced would be accompanied by two important changes. “Teleworking is imposed without the need for an agreement between employers and workers, and without the agreement of either. It is compulsory wherever possible. And to ensure compliance with this obligation, we consider as very serious the fine arising from the violation of the obligation to telework”, he said.

“To signal to everyone that individual responsibility has to be combined with collective solidarity, all the fines that are foreseen for violation of any of the norms for containment of the pandemic, such as the use of the mask on public roads, will be doubled so that there is a clear signal that it is fundamental to make an increased effort to contain the pandemic at a time when we are facing a more dangerous moment,” the Prime Minister announced.

“I would like to remind you that when in April I announced the programme of deconfinement that we were going to start progressively in May I told the Portuguese that I would not be ashamed to go back if and when it was necessary. And here I am, showing my face, not ashamed to go back to where we were last April”, said António Costa, assuring that he understands the weight that these measures will have on those who fear losing their jobs and on business owners who are fighting for their companies’ livelihoods.

For them, the Prime Minister revealed that “the set of economic measures will be extended and renewed,” reiterating that all “closed activities will have automatic access to the simplified layoff.

Asked about possible restrictions on flights to the Autonomous Regions, António Costa said that these had never been introduced and would never be introduced now as “the principle of territorial continuity has to be ensured” and there will never be any restrictions on flights to and from the Açores and Madeira.

As for monitoring the new measures, and questioning whether there will be a reinforcement of operational means, Costa said that the police forces will act with “the diligence that we are used to”.

The restrictions that are in place for border control and that were recently renewed will remain in place, the Prime Minister said.

“When I said at Christmas that I would not hesitate to pull the handbrake if necessary, we pull the handbrake right after New Year’s Eve,” the Prime Minister recalled.

“We are all well aware that a general lockdown has huge economic costs,” he said. “But there is something we also know: the cost of human life is priceless.

“We have reached a point where we cannot hesitate about what needs to be done, so we really need to take a step back and adopt the containment measures”.

António Costa assured, however, that the 2021 State Budget can help to protect families and businesses from this confinement.

António Costa recalls the “difficult balance” of recent months between the vitality of the economy and the control of covid-19. The Prime Minister makes it clear, however, that the priority now is to reduce the number of cases and deaths, not contesting the adverse economic effects that this new confinement will cause.

“Each time the pandemic forces us to limit activities, the economy suffers severely. Each time the pandemic allows us to ease the restrictions, the economy naturally develops more positively. So we all look forward to not having to adopt more restrictive measures. We have been looking over these months for measures to concentrate on the weekend and not on essential activities. We cannot hesitate when it comes to the growth of the pandemic as we are experiencing it. The measures have to be adopted and the stronger they are, the quicker they take effect. If you ask me, will it have a negative impact on the economy? It certainly will”.

What will be closed or prohibited in the new lockdown – and the exceptions

Trade, services will be closed, except for authorised establishments such as grocery shops, super and hypermarkets and others;

– All educational establishments will continue to operate;

– The Courts will also function;

– Restaurants and cafés will only be allowed to operate via take-away or home delivery.

– Public services available by appointment;

– All events are prohibited except for election campaigns and religious celebrations.

– Cultural facilities will be closed.

– It will be possible to exercise in the open air. Gyms and other sports venues will be closed.

– The matches of the national teams and the 1st senior division will not be open to the public.

 

 

Meeting of experts at Infarmed Tuesday 12th January 2021

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Experts and government officials meet at Infarmed for a new meeting to assess the epidemiological situation in Portugal

The Minister of Health opened the meeting at 1030 hrs, which will have nine presentations, more than usual.

Agenda

Marta Temido has already started her speech, making a presentation of the agenda, which will last until 1 pm. The planned presentations are  are:

Epidemiological situation in the country

André Peralta Santos – Directorate-General for Health

Epidemiological situation in ARS Norte

Óscar Felgueiras – Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto (Videoconference)

Epidemiological situation in ARS LVT

Duarte Tavares from the Public Health Department of ARSLVT

Evolution of incidence and transmissibility

Baltazar Nunes – National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge

Surveillance of genetic variants of the new coronavirus in Portugal

João Paulo Gomes – Dr. Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute

Short-term projections for the epidemic

Manuel do Carmo Gomes – Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon

Covid-19: Risk, long-term prognosis and expectations

Henrique de Barros – Institute of Public Health, University of Porto (Videoconference

Social perceptions about Covid-19

Carla Nunes – National School of Public Health at Universidade Nova de Lisboa

State of play of the vaccination plan against covid-19

Francisco Ramos – Coordinator of the Task Force for the Vaccination Plan against covid-19 in Portugal

 

STATISTICS AND TRENDS

According to data presented by André Peralta Santos, responsible for the statistics department of the Directorate-General for Health, Portugal now has 871 new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants in 14 days.

It is a “historic maximum” since the beginning of the covid-19 epidemic in the country, already above the 765 new cases per 100 thousand inhabitants registered around 25 November, at the peak of the second wave.

After the decrease in the incidence of cases that began in late November in the North, Christmas marked the beginning of a new upward curve of contagions, describes the mathematician from the University of Porto, Óscar Felgueiras. “Until the 26th of December, only 9% of the population in the northern region was in municipalities with the highest incidence. In the last week, this incidence of new cases suddenly jumped to 40% in 14 days.”

Currently, the entire northern region is experiencing high growth levels (over 30% in much of the territory) and at an accelerated rate.

Transmission speed of the virus was reversed at Christmas: R (t) is at 1.22. Before December 25th it was 0.98.

It is “a high value” that reflects the situation across the country, says Baltazar Nunes, from the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge. More about R (t) in Portugal here

 

The reduction of cases will be, stresses Baltazar Nunes, “naturally” smaller than if the educational institutions closed. The expert says that with confinement measures, keeping schools open, the covid’s transmission speed will decrease.

By measuring citizens’ mobility, Baltazar Nunes said, weekend containment measures reduced the incidence of cases and hospitalizations.

 

João Paulo Gomes, from the National Health Institute dr. Ricardo Jorge, said that the variant coming from the United Kingdom has “increased its frequency”.

Manuel Carmo Gomes estimates that if the 6.5% daily percentage increase registered on 8 January remains, “every 11 days we will double the cases”. In this scenario, on January 19, we will have 18600 cases and, on the 27th, these will rise to 37,200.

Even with the same confinement as in March, “we will hardly avoid the 14,000 cases” per day, which will happen in about two weeks. Lowering this number by half will take approximately three weeks, and then reaching the 3 500 will take the same time.

“We are facing the most difficult weeks of this pandemic,” said Carmo Gomes. However, he believes that, after that period, the situation “can only improve”.

Approximately 5000 cases were not detected during Christmas week. These are the people who caused the “acute situation” in the country after December 25, says Manuel do Carmo Gomes.
Manuel do Carmo Gomes, from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, said that since January 11th, there has been a rise in cases that was already foreseen.

In the week of Christmas, an unusual phenomenon occurred: there were fewer positive tests, but the incidence went up. That is, there are cases that “will have escaped” testing. This is “one of the explanations” for the “very abnormal” rise in cases after this festival.

João Paulo Gomes, said that the variant coming from the United Kingdom has “increased its frequency”. It is more contagious, but “there is no evidence” that it affects young people more.

Between January 4 and 10, the percentage of new infected people who may have contracted the new variant was up to 8%. The expert said, however, that the weight of this strain in the country “is still modest”.

 

Without new restrictions, there would be an increase of 23% in the number of cases, 7% in the number of deaths and 20% in hospitalizations, says Henrique de Barros, from the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto. “This is the worst case scenario”, if we continued to “live like Christmas”

Since the period when they were considered cured, 60% of patients with covid have maintained health problems: depression, headache, dizziness, palpitations and loss of smell and taste, revealed the specialist from U. Porto.

And 30% of patients have symptoms beyond 9 months. “This makes covid a chronic disease.” And “there are practically no differences between who was admitted and who was not.” “It is necessary to keep these thousands of people under observation”, he adds.

 

The coordinator of the working group for the vaccination plan against covid-19, Francisco Ramos, revealed that, until this Monday, Portugal received about 160 thousand doses of the vaccine. There were 67,160 doses distributed and 74,099 people inoculated between December 26 and January 8.

Francisco Ramos highlighted the difference between inoculation and vaccination, pointing out that there is still no person vaccinated in Portugal because the vaccine only takes effect after the second dose.

Of the inoculated people, about 55 thousand are health professionals and 7500 are home users.

“At the end of February, we will be able to finish the vaccination of employees of homes and hospitalized in intensive care”, guaranteed Francisco Ramos.

“So far, the big problem is the lack of available vaccines,” said Francisco Ramos. The coordinator of the working group for the vaccination plan said that, between February and March, Portugal expects to receive around 1.4 million doses of vaccines, should the European Union approve the Astra / Zeneca vaccine.

However, it is “unlikely” that the country will be able to start vaccinating citizens of the second priority group before the end of the first quarter.

 

Carla Nunes, from the National School of Public Health at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, revealed that the segments of the population that have reported feeling worse in terms of global health status are women, older people and less educated citizens.

As for the perception of risk, those who showed the highest rates were men, young people and people with low education.

About 60% of respondents in the study prepared by the specialist admitted that they had not always used a mask the last time they were in contact with a group of 10 or more people. In November, this figure was 25%

Carla Nunes revealed that 64% of respondents in the study are little or not confident about the health services’ ability to respond to non-covid diseases.

Regarding the perception of the measures implemented by the Government, about 40% considered them to be little or not adequate – even better than at the end of November. With this opinion, men, young people and less educated citizens predominate.

The same study indicates that 65.8% of respondents intend to have a vaccine as soon as it is available. Only 3.2% say they do not want to be vaccinated, against about 10% in November.

In all, 15.9% of respondents are little or not at all confident about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

 

The questioning of experts, which will be held in camera, began at 1230 hrs.