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Infarmed Meeting – State of Emergency 13th April 2021

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

The Minister of Health starts the meeting with experts. Marta Temido explains that today there are seven presentations.

They are: “epidemiological situation in the country. André Peralta Santos, Directorate-General for Health

Evolution of incidence and transmissibility, Baltazar Nunes, from the National Health Institute Dr. Ricardo Jorge

Update on the surveillance of genetic variants of the new coronavirus in Portugal, João Paulo Gomes, from the National Health Institute Dr. Ricardo Jorge

Local risk indicators ,, Óscar Felgueiras, from the North Regional Health Administration and Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto

EVOLUTION of critical areas in space and time, Carla Nunes | National School of Public Health, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Schools as surveillance structures, Henrique de Barros | Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto

State of play on the vaccination plan, Henrique Gouveia e Melo | Coordinator of the Task Force for the Vaccination Plan against COVID-19 in Portugal

10.05 hrs

The first to speak, as usual, is the DGS specialist, André Peralta Santos.

André Peralta Santos, from DGS, said that Portugal currently has a “moderate incidence” of the virus, “close to 71 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants and with a slightly increasing trend”.

There are “some municipalities” with an incidence of more than 120 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants, the majority in Alentejo and Algarve. In the last week, there was also “some growth” in the areas of Greater Porto and Trás-os-Montes.

There is a “very noticeable” reduction in incidence across all age groups. There was an increase in the age group from zero to 9 years old. The decrease is greatest in the group over 80 years of age.

There are 22 municipalities with more than 120 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants, with a total of 636 thousand people, representing 6.5% of the population.

Hospitalizations maintain the downward trend, both in the ward and in the ICU, although the rate of descent has slowed. In mortality, the same phenomenon occurs.

There is an increase in testing in the active population,” said Peralta Santos.

As for testing, there was general “intensification” and, above all, the municipalities with the highest incidence are testing more. The rate of positivity has decreased and, although some municipalities are above the 4% defined as a red line by experts, most of the country remains below that threshold.

According to Peralta Santos, there is a general increase in testing in the active population , “less expressive” in the younger population. And there is an “improvement” in laboratory reporting, with a 6% delay now.

The DGS official also mentions the “good news” that Portugal is below the mortality threshold established by ECDC

10.24 hrs

Baltazar Nunes, from the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, first points out the “systematic growth” of the transmissibility index, the R (t), since the beginning of February. “We have gone through a phase of growth in the number of cases per day”. Currently, the R (t) is 1.04, nationally. The whole country has R (t) above 1, except Lisbon and the Tagus Valley.

There is a reversal of the trend and new cases per day are increasing”

Baltazar Nunes, from the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge, first points out the “systematic growth” of the transmissibility index, the R (t), since the beginning of February. “There is an inversion of the trend, moving now to a growth of new cases per day”. Currently, the R (t) is 1.04, nationally – the whole country has R (t) above 1, except Lisbon and the Tagus Valley.

On April 8, to which the most recent data report, the R was at 1.09 (at the last meeting at Infarmed, it was at 0.89). “The time it takes for the number and cases to double is 35 days,” said Baltazar Nunes.

As for the rate of incidence of the disease per 100 thousand inhabitants in 14 days, the expert estimates that Portugal reaches 120 thousand cases per 100 thousand inhabitants “between two weeks and one month”.

Two weeks to a month to exceed threshold

As for the rate of incidence of the disease per 100 thousand inhabitants in 14 days, the expert estimates that Portugal reaches 120 thousand cases per 100 thousand inhabitants (threshold of the risk matrix) “between two weeks and one month”.

With regard to the incidence by age, Baltazar Nunes indicates that there is a “very significant increase in the trend in the age groups below 9 years old , mainly close to 5, 6 years old” – an increase that explains the opening of the first cycle of schools . Although with lower values ​​than in the younger age groups, there is also an increase in the incidence in the groups of 10 to 19 years of age and 25 and 50. But, on the other hand, the reduction of the incidence in people over 65 years old is a “very positive” sign.

Vaccines prevented 78 to 140 deaths

Stressing the importance of vaccination in reducing the number of cases in people over 80, the specialist at the Dr. Ricardo Jorge Institute points out that vaccines have prevented, so far, 78 to 140 deaths by covid-19 in Portugal. “There is a significant effect of vaccination coverage on the population aged 80 and over.”

Compared to the rest of Europe, “Portugal has a much lower incidence level” , even though the R is increasing. The country today has fewer restrictive measures than many other European countries and there has been ” an increase in the number of contacts , mainly in the age groups under 69″, although it is less than what happened at Christmas time.

The increase in Rt and mobility in the country, which is advancing in the process of deflation, obliges to compensate with other health security rules.

Baltazar Nunes listed the main ones, such as increasing testing , isolating cases and tracking contacts , reducing the number of contacts outside the family bubble , and reinforcing measures in places such as school and work.

Last but not least, increase vaccine coverage, especially over the age of 65 .

 

10.41hrs

United Kingdom variant accounted for 83% of cases in March

João Paulo Gomes, from INSA, said that there was a “significant reduction” of the original variant in Portuguese territory, which appeared in Spain, and that it has been progressively replaced by the United Kingdom variant. In March, this represented 83% of cases of covid-19 in Portugal. In the North it is “clearly less represented”, at 71%; in the Algarve and Madeira, it reaches 94%.

South Africa variant with “very significant growth”

The Manaus (Brazil) variant represents 0.4% of cases in Portugal. South Africa, on the other hand, showed “very significant growth”, rising from 0.1% in February to 2.5% in March.

There are now 29 cases of the Brazilian variant, a number in line with what is recorded at European level. João Paulo Gomes recalled that these values ​​are “residual”, confessing himself surprised due to the proximity between Portugal and Brazil.

The South African variant currently represents 53 cases in the country. The expert stressed the importance of border control “to try to understand if there is a lack of control” of the spread of this variant, which he said was being introduced, mainly, from Mozambique.

João Paulo Gomes recalled that there are signs that this variant may be more resistant to vaccines, but clarified that the situation is not a cause for alarm.

The Brazilian variant is “very controlled”, said João Paulo Gomes. The South African variant, on the other hand, deserves “some concern” and requires attention to border control.

 

10.57 hrs

Óscar Felgueiras, from the Regional Health Administration of the North and Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto, talks about local risk indicators. He proposes to combine two indicators – the neighbouring incidence and the municipal incidence – in order to obtain the adjusted incidence indicator The objective is to correct the low specificity of the neighbouring incidence.

The specialist points out problems in taking into account the incidence by municipalities as a “single indicator”. One of them is the fact that small counties where the number of cases is not very high have a very high incidence, as in Vimioso. The municipality has an incidence of 249 cases for a population of 4 thousand inhabitants, but, taking into account the four neighbouring municipalities, there are 36 cases in the region for 67 thousand inhabitants. If the region is considered in its entirety, the incidence would be 53, far below that recorded in Vimioso. “We can think about defining an incidence indicator next to the municipality in question”, but in this case there is the disadvantage of “mitigating the risk” in some places.

Thus, the specialist proposes to combine two indicators – the neighbouring incidence and the municipal incidence. Thus, the adjusted incidence indicator is obtained , whose objective is to correct the weaknesses of the previous ones, reflecting the risk of proximity and mobility expected between municipalities and promising to be a tool to implement health measures at the local level.

 

11.19 hrs

“There is no clear relationship” between incidence and population density

Carla Nunes, from the Escola Superior de Saúde Pública at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, said that, between February and the beginning of April, the areas of greatest risk in the country were “the whole coast” and also the South of the country.

With regard to the spread of the virus, there has been a greater concentration of cases. “There is no clear relationship” between incidence and population density, said the expert.

As for the Portuguese’s perception of the disease, Carla Nunes revealed that there has been a “change in behavior” in the last two weeks. On 2 April, 7.5% of respondents in a study coordinated by the specialist stated that they had been in groups of 10 or more people , against 4.9% on 19 March.

Of the respondents, 87.7% said they considered vaccination to be safe or very safe, against 8.4% who considered it to be little or not at all safe. 87.5% believe that vaccines are effective or very effective, against 14.6% who think they are not.

One in four people say they feel agitated or sad due to the rules of social detachment. One in two rated their health status as very poor and reasonable.

There are still 22.4% of respondents with little or no confidence in health care related to covid-19, a figure that rises to 51.7% with respect to other diseases. In this parameter, there were no major changes compared to the previous period, the same occurring in relation to the assessment of Government measures : currently, 31.7% of respondents say that they are little or not adequate.

Greater difficulties were also reported in complying with measures , namely the use of a mask (increase from 7.5% to 14.5%), teleworking (from 34.7% to 42.4%), the duty to stay at home (from 27.5% to 33.3%) and precautions regarding visits to friends or family (from 34.4% to 41.5%).

11.36 hrs

Schools show safety

Henrique Barros, from the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto (ISPUP), reinforces that “the rate of infection reduction has changed”, with the incidence now increasing in most age groups, with the exception of older ages, where vaccination has an effect. “The vaccine encirclement that is coming from the oldest to the youngest, makes these ages more susceptible to the circulation of the virus”, says the expert.

Stressing the increase in incidence among children, the specialist spoke of schools as “surveillance structures” and presented data on specific school groups. Henrique Barros concludes that, “contrary to what is seen in employees, who are adults, in proportion of infection marker is much lower ”. That is, although there is an increase in cases at these ages, this is very small, summarizes the expert. In addition, there is an “enormous variability” in the infection rate depending on the classes, which places the risk outside the school and not on the school grounds.

11.52 hrs

Henrique Gouveia e Melo, coordinator of the task force for vaccination against covid-19, confirms the forecast of receiving 1.9 million vaccines in April and a total of 11 million over the second quarter.

Until last Sunday, Portugal received 2.6 million vaccines and administered about 2.1 million doses: first doses were 1.5 million people, that is, more than 15% of the population has one dose taken, and 6% took two doses.

With the priority groups for phase 1 of the vaccination plan with high rates of vaccination coverage (values ​​between 80% and 99%), the process has now moved on to phase 2, which includes people over 65 who were not been vaccinated before. And so far 400,000 people in this group have been vaccinated, equivalent to 27% of this group, announced Henrique Gouveia e Melo.

The main criterion for this phase is that of age, that is, advancing from the oldest to the youngest.

Portugal will vaccinate the entire population over 60 “between the last week of May and the first week of June, which gives us some hope”. The 70% vaccinated with the first dose – which implies vaccination for all over 30 years of age – “between July and August”. In terms of serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths, this advance will provide “quite high protection”.

In update from live news

 

COVID-19 GOVERNMENT TO INCREASE INSPECTIONS BY GNR, PSP AND ACT IN MUNICIPALITIES WITH HIGHEST INCIDENCE

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

Lisbon, April 6, 2021 (Lusa) – The prime minister announced today that the inspection by security forces in the municipalities with the highest incidence of cases of covid-19 will be reinforced and inspections of the health conditions of temporary housing intensified.

These measures were announced by António Costa after having met by videoconference with the mayors of the seven municipalities that register more than 240 cases of covid-19 per one hundred thousand inhabitants in the last 15 days: Alandroal, Carregal do Sal, Moura, Odemira, Portimão, Ribeira de Pena and Rio Maior.

According to the prime minister, in relation to the covid-19 outbreaks that occur in these municipalities, there is the existence of “a common pattern”.

In most cases, the origin of the outbreaks lies in “the concentration of people, in precarious and temporary housing associated or in large public works, or even working in industrial units that use local housing”.

“We will articulate specific actions by the Authority for Working Conditions (ACT), together with the public health authorities, with a view to creating better sanitary conditions in these places of residence and, also, to develop massive testing actions in cases in which they are not in progress. It is necessary to detect infected people and break the transmission chains “, declared António Costa.

In the specific case of agriculture, the Prime Minister said that, in partnership with producer organizations, there will be preventive work, with the dissemination of “good practices and testing”, taking into account the harvest calendar, which is now starting and that will continue until the harvest period.

The Minister of Internal Administration, Eduardo Cabrita, “stated that, in the next 15 days, there will be a reinforcement of the number of GNR or PSP in the 20 municipalities with more than 120 cases of covid-19 per hundred thousand inhabitants in the last 15 days. “Inspection actions will be reinforced”, stressed António Costa.

At the press conference, the Prime Minister left an appeal to employers to organize “the best possible way” working conditions, with testing of their workers and monitoring the health situation of each one.

“But I also appeal to workers to be extremely careful in the use of personal protective equipment. It is essential that when stopping, namely at meal times, distance safety rules are respected to avoid increased contamination risks”, he added.

 

PRIME MINISTERS ADDRESS TO THE NATION CONCERNING EASING OF MEASURES

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

EASING OF MEASURES CONTINUES, BUT GOVERNMENT KEEPS 19 MUNICIPALITIES UNDER SURVEILLANCE

BORDER WITH SPAIN TO REMAIN CLOSED

TRAVEL BAN BETWEEN MUNICIPALITIES TO BE LIFTED AFTER 5TH APRIL

António Costa confirmed the next phase of the de-confinement, recalling that the transmission rate had a favourable evolution, having decreased from 118 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants (on 9th March) to 62.4 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants on 31st March. Taking into account the incidence levels of R(t), the country is still in the green zone.

Although the prime-minister stated that the de-confinement plan will progress – due to the fact that Portugal is still in the “green zone” – but António Costa gives a warning to the municipalities. If any municipality registers, in two consecutive evaluations, an incidence rate higher than 1 and an average of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants higher than 120, it will not advance in the next phase of confinement.

At the moment, there are 19 municipalities at risk, the prime minister said.

Municipalities at risk

Between 120 and 240 cases:

Alandroal, Albufeira. Beja, Borba, Cinfães, Figueira da Foz, Figueiró dos Vinhos, Lagoa, Marinha Grande, Penela, Soure, Vila do Bispo, Vimioso

More than 240 cases: Carregal do Sal, Moura, Odemira, Portimão, Ribeira de Pena andRio Maior

Asked about possible measures in the 19 municipalities that are currently outside the green zone of the de-confining traffic light, i.e. have more than 120 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, António Costa said that it is necessary to have “measures with stability” and that, therefore, the evaluation will always be made every 15 days. “No interim measures will be taken,” he mentioned.

The programme presented on 11 March foresees, from Monday

From 5 April

– 2nd and 3rd cycle of basic education (and ATLs for the same ages)

– social facilities in the area of ​​disability

– museums, monuments, palaces, art galleries and the like

– stores up to 200 m2 with door to the street

– fairs and non-food markets (municipal decision)

– terraces only (max 4 people per table)

– outdoor physical activity for up to 4 people and gyms without group classes

 

The Prime Minister calls on the Portuguese to take special care during the Easter festive season. While speaking, António Costa shows the images of a group of people at the table, illustrating the circulation of particles in this context. “I renew the appeal that we all make the effort to avoid an unhappy Easter”.

The Prime Minister again thanked the Portuguese “for the way they have collectively managed to control this pandemic”. “In this third wave we managed to bring with great sacrifice, determination and persistence, from days when we were the worst in the world to the situation in which we find ourselves today, in which in Europe only Iceland is better than Portugal”.

It was also announced that the level of border control in place will be maintained, “There is a de facto agreement with the kingdom of Spain for us to keep the land borders closed so as to prevent an increase in the pandemic and to keep a properly controlled situation. Borders will remain closed with the exceptions that have been announced.”

Possible changes will be introduced in relation to countries that had the third wave earlier and facilitate movement between countries. Among the novelties is also the possible resumption of flights between Portugal and Brazil, subject to mandatory testing and quarantine.

António Costa clarified that the measure banning travel between municipalities will no longer be in force after next Monday, 5 April. “In the next fortnight there is no provision for a ban on movement between municipalities, either during the week or at the weekend,” the Prime Minister said.

In response to journalists, António Costa reiterated that events such as Formula 1, Moto GP and football matches will continue without audiences, as they represent “an increased risk”. “We will continue to avoid it,” he stressed.

Source: PÚBLICO.

 

 

 

 

 

VICE-ADMIRAL GOUVEIA E MELO, CORDINATOR OF THE VACCINATION PLAN AGAINST COVID-INTERVIEW WITH RADIO RENASCENÇA AND PÚBLICO

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

In an interview in which he address a wide range of topics concerning the vaccination program he stated the following;

It is necessary to end vaccination by groups of diseases and move towards vaccination by age – that is what Vice-Admiral Gouveia e Melo, coordinator of the vaccination plan against Covid-19, asks, in an interview with Renascença and Público, that “it doesn’t make sense for most of the population to wait for all the groups to get vaccinated.

In the program Hora da Verdade, by Rádio Renascença and PÚBLICO, Gouveia e Melo revealed that the first test of this new methodology should advance in the third week of April. As for the vaccination of teachers and school staff, he says it is serving to “test the vaccination process” en masse and believes that it will not affect the immunization of other priority groups, because most of the 280 thousand will be vaccinated by the end of -week of 10 and 11 of April, when almost 100 percent of the elderly from the age of 80 and the most at risk patients will have already taken the first dose.

The vice-admiral defends the use of the age criterion, arguing that, by continuing to vaccinate by “small groups”, we will accumulate doses in the warehouse that could be protecting people.

The first phase should have ended by the end of March. When will all elderly people over 80 and people with higher risk diseases be vaccinated?
According to our estimates, after the second week of April. We are making a very big effort so that, by April 11, practically 100 percent of the elderly and people with phase 1 comorbidities are all vaccinated. Of course, 100% is never guaranteed because there are always bags of people left behind, because they were unable to contact each other.

How are these grants going to resolve?
We have a finer process with the help of municipalities, health centers, trying to reach these elderly people who are either isolated or bedridden, or who are info-excluded.

Ministers of Education and Higher Education have always insisted that schools are safe places. Despite this, 280,000 teachers and staff were placed in front of thousands of first-stage patients, such as cardiac and severe kidney and lung patients. The experts of the technical vaccination commission of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) contest this decision. How is the inclusion of this new group in the first phase justified?
I find it strange that experts challenge this priority, because the priority comes from DGS. We carry out a plan according to priorities defined by the DGS. We need to gain the resilience of the State so that it is possible to respond during the pandemic, but, on the other hand, while vaccines are scarce, we have to concentrate as much as possible on the most vulnerable and elderly population. We defined a simple rule: 90% of the vaccines available went to accelerate this process of saving lives and 10% to gain the resilience of the State. [In addition], the large tranche of teachers and non-teachers, 200 thousand, is vaccinated on the weekend of [10 and] 11 April, when phase 1 is practically closed, because we have reached 100% of the other groups. We are preparing for a massive vaccination phase and we have to test massive systems.

Are teachers being used for this test, therefore?
Teachers also serve to test the entire [mass vaccination] system.

What about resilience outside the state?
It will be won with vaccination by age groups. What is at stake for the second phase? At this moment, we are discussing with the DGS whether or not we should continue to [prioritize] large groups, for example diabetics, hypertensive patients, which could be three million people. By vaccinating by age, we are also vaccinating for illnesses, which are closely related to age. Most diseases are associated with age. Diseases that are not associated with age should be prioritized. We are fighting with a strategy with two things at the same time, also [we want] to go and find less elderly people who would have to wait a long time, but who have diseases that can be very critical.

Like transplant recipients, for example?
It seems to us that it is more fair. The sickest people are the oldest people. The exception should be for other small groups that have rare or very specific diseases and that, according to age, would have to wait months.

When will the decision be made to use the age criterion?

It is being taken at the moment, these are decisions that require some reflection. Plans have to change. We were expecting a lot more vaccines. There is a phase when there are very few vaccines and suddenly there is a tidal wave of vaccines.

Are you confident that what calls the tidal wave of vaccines will arrive even in April?
If there is no tsunami, the plan must be readjusted again. In the first quarter, 2 million vaccines arrived and 4.4 million were expected. [In the second] 9 million will arrive and we cannot be making a filigree-like progress, we have to move forward with another one, in which the speed, the pace of vaccination is the most important. I must not create difficulties at this rate because [if I do] I will be accumulating vaccines. This is what is unacceptable. The process is complex and, if I have to look for so many disease codes and this and that, I can’t vaccinate 100,000 to 120,000 people every day.

Does group vaccination hinder the speed of the operation?
Of course, because the organization is very complex and full of rules that hinder all the logistics and the efficiency of the process. And the difference between people being vaccinated using group criteria or being vaccinated by age criteria is a matter of days. Now, it is not a matter of days if you try to do the opposite. It does not make sense to keep the majority of the population waiting for these small groups to be vaccinated and to accumulate vaccines that could be giving protection to people.

I already said that a website will be created for people to self-register. But won’t that make those with the most initiative, probably the youngest , sign up first?
No, because the self-registration will be done by age groups, from x to x time it opens an age group for registration. And the two methods will continue to exist, that of the central system that goes to the database and that is seeing who was not called and the self-scheduling. People will be able to choose the date and location because it makes the process a lot easier. I have 100,000 seats to fill every day, and instead of looking for 100,000 people to fill the seats, I want these people to step up and proactively try to fill them. The first test will be in the third week of April. Let’s start with the age group that is to be filled, I assume it will be in the 70s, then 60s, then 50s, then 40s, until we finish.

But you need staff to vaccinate. Are these accounts done?
We need about 2500 nurses, 400 doctors and 2300 assistants, roughly speaking. In primary health care there are about 9,000 nurses. It is acceptable to use up to 20% of these nurses for vaccination. But primary care has to recover the care activity [which has yet to be done]. So, what we are trying to do is have between 1,000 to 1,500 SNS professionals to frame the answer and then go and get others. Either people who are not employed or who are now leaving nursing schools, who are finishing their training, or nurses working overtime.

Can they then be nursing students?
Not students, but people who are moving from the teaching stage to the professional stage. What is needed is to find solutions inside and outside the NHS.

How do you respond to patient associations that claim to be prioritized?
They are all right, except that the number of vaccines does not allow everyone to be vaccinated. This prioritization hurts a lot of people but the indecision is that it cannot happen.

How many doses are ordered?
We have 35.8 million doses ordered and promised. The Government did not save and bought a different range of vaccines to avoid becoming dependent on one type of vaccine. In the second half of April we will receive 80 thousand doses of the Janssen vaccine.

In Canada and Berlin, it has now been decided to give only the AstraZeneca vaccine under 55 years of age. Aren’t you worried?
There are many episodes about Astrazeneca … if they correspond to an effective health concern or something else, I will not comment on that, I leave it to the imagination and the interpretive capacity of people. There is a European regulator that has scientists and data and a capacity that no single country regulator has and that it says is safe and effective.

Is the risk of not getting the Covid-19 vaccine higher?

I can make a very simple account. There is a thromboembolic event in half a million people, and there is still no certainty that it is related to the AstraZeneca vaccine. In Portugal, more than 16 thousand people have died with Covid, that is, for every 600 Portuguese people, one has died. Not having the vaccine has a risk almost a thousand times higher.

The price of the AstraZeneca vaccine is much lower than that of Pfizer and that of Moderna. Some say there may be a trade war here.
I can’t comment, I leave that to the good judgment of people. The reality is that the vaccine is cheaper, they do without profit, it is what it is.

Are we really going to get to group immunity in August, as I said?
I like the concept of group protection more than group immunity. Group immunity means that the vaccinated person is not a virus transmitter, group protection means that that person is protected. If vaccinations arrive, by the end of the summer we will have more than 70% of the population with one dose, I do not mean the date a, b or c.

When will you be vaccinated?
I should have been vaccinated for my military duties, but I did not need the vaccine because I think that in these functions I have to set an example, I will take a chance and try to give my vaccine to those who need it most. In that position, it does not seem very curiously in ethical terms to be using my military function to vaccinate me.

 

Meeting at Infarmed concerning evolution of Covid-19 -Live updates

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

Today, another meeting is taking place at Infarmed, in which the Government and political figures meet with experts to analyze the epidemiological situation in Portugal.

At Infarmed, in Lisbon, from 10 am, as has been happening since February, only the Minister of Health, Marta Temido, and most epidemiologists will be present.

The remaining participants, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, António Costa and Ferro Rodrigues, party representatives, members of the Council of State and social partners, will follow the meeting by videoconference.

This week the Assembly of the Republic is expected to debate and vote on the draft presidential decree for the renewal of the state of emergency for a new period of 15 days, with effect from April 1 and which will cover the Easter period.

The session begins with a presentation by André Peralta Santos, from the Directorate-General for Health, on the epidemiological situation , following the perspective of the evolution of the incidence and transmissibility of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in charge of Baltazar Nunes and Ricardo Mexia, from the National Institute of Health Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA) .

João Paulo Gomes, also from INSA, will update the virus variants in the country, with Henrique de Barros, from the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto, giving a presentation on a year of learning from covid-19 in Portugal .

The meeting continues with the presentation of the social perceptions of the pandemic in the country, in charge of Carla Nunes, from the National School of Public Health of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, and with the status of vaccination by the coordinator of the vice-admiral task force Henrique Gouveia e Melo .

The meeting starts 10.08 hrs

André Santos Peralta, the DGS, says there was a “downward trend of maintaining” the incidence of the virus, with an average of 79 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. However, in Greater Lisbon, “there are already some municipalities” with a growing trend. The active population became the population with the highest incidence, but there was a “very expressive” decrease in hospitalizations in the infirmary and ICU.

The active population became the population with the highest incidence, but there was a “very expressive” decrease in hospitalizations in the infirmary and ICU. “in a scenario of great incidence, only the population from 40 to 60 is enough to exceed the indicator of 245 beds of hospitalizations in ICU”. That is, “To be completely safe, the age group to be vaccinated will have to go up to these ages”.

Lisbon and Tagus Valley has the highest incidence (more cases per 100 thousand inhabitants every 14 days).

Regarding hospitalizations, there is a maintenance of the decline in the +60 group. In the ICUs, there is a “very significant drop” in the group of 50, 60 and 70 years old.

As for the variants, that of the United Kingdom increased, reaching 73% in Lisbon and Vale do Tejo and above 60% in the North.

The testing rate is “quite considerable” and the 4% positive ceiling is only found “in some municipalities”. There has been a greater speed in laboratory notification, revealed the expert.

English variant already represents more than 70% of the cases in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region. “There has been an increase”

A new fact about lethality: “In the week of March 1st to 7th, there was a decrease in lethality in the more than 80 years,” he says.

Regarding the virus variants, especially in the United Kingdom, there was an increase, with a prevalence of new variants in the order of 73.3% in the Lisbon region, and 60% / 65% in the North and Center, and in the rest of the country the estimate is more uncertain but it will be around 30% in the Alentejo and 70% in the Algarve.

10.38 hrs
Transmission Rate R (t)
 
Baltazar Nunes, from the Ricardo Jorge National Institute, first highlights the growing trend of the transmissibility index, the R (t). “It is natural to slow down the decrease in new cases,” says the expert. But, currently, all regions of the Continent are in the green zone of the risk matrix .Although the R is approaching 1, “it is important to evaluate the two indicators – the incidence at 14 days and the R – together”, says Baltazar Nunes. Only when the R rises above 1 will the number of cases begin to rise. Much of Central and Eastern Europe has incidence rates above 120 and R above 1. For Baltazar Nunes, this “may be a risk for Portugal”.

At the end of March, the incidence is expected to stabilize at the line of 60 cases at the end of March. “We no longer predict that the incidence will drop from that level,” explained the expert.

The next steps, concluded Baltazar Nunes, must be aware that R and mobility are increasing, and that the incidence in European countries is also rising.

Therefore, Ricardo Jorge recommends increasing testing, maintaining preventive measures and increasing vaccination.

Ricardo Mexia, from INSA, said that a “pressing need” in the vaccination strategy is to have an “agile” notification of the test results. In the last few days, there has been an “important increase” in testing, especially rapid testing. PCR tests have known “stabilization”.

In schools, in more than 80 thousand tests, the rate of positivity is currently 0.1%. On March 19, the positivity rate was 1.2% – below, therefore, the recommended 4% threshold.

10.44 hrs

Variants

João Paulo Gomes, also from the Ricardo Jorge Institute, now takes stock of the incidence of the covid-19 variant. Almost 100% of covid cases in England are from the United Kingdom variant and this should be the trend in the rest of the countries, being just “a matter of time”, says João Paulo Gomes, director of the Department of Infectious Diseases of the National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA). “The UK variant is expected to be in more than 80% of cases in our country.” “Almost all countries are expected to have a near 100% prevalence of the UK variant.” In Portugal, we have a prevalence of 70%, although, says the specialist, it is expected to reach 80% of cases shortly.

João Paulo Gomes also explains that the rapid tests will not allow the search for new variants. Mass testing is positive, but it has this problem, says the expert. To solve it, he proposes to increase the sampling of PCR tests, which are the ones that allow the analysis and surveillance of variants, by increasing the network of laboratories – private and the Academy.

There are 24 cases of the South African variant identified in Portugal (250 in the United Kingdom, 300 in Belgium). João Paulo Gomes stresses the importance of flight control and travel history, as this variant is spread across European countries that have many flight connections with Portugal. “The last thing you want is for the same thing to happen to the UK variant, which is widespread.”

As for the Manaus variant, 16 cases are identified in Portugal, within the average and very distant from countries like Italy, which already have almost 160 cases.

Ricardo Jorge will also increase the installed capacity for the sequencing of the samples.

1100 hrs

INSA proposes solution for the “continuous decrease” in the number of PCR tests

With the increase in testing with rapid tests, there is a “continuous decrease” in the number of PCR tests, “the only ones that allow the search for SARS-CoV-2 variants”. To resolve the issue, INSA researcher João Paulo Gomes proposes an extension of the laboratory network to select positive PCR samples to perform their genomic sequencing, inviting more laboratories to participate, and also suggests that whoever has a positive rapid test can be again tested with PCR.

Of the approximately 50 countries that do genomic sequencing, Portugal is in 12th place, with 4332 sequenced genomes, a far cry from countries such as the United Kingdom (287 thousand) or Denmark (50 thousand). Taking into account the size of the population of each country, Portugal manages to sequence 43 genomes per 100 thousand inhabitants, which puts us higher on the list.

“We do not do a week-by-week surveillance, but we focus on one week of each month to have more geographic representation”, says João Paulo Gomes, from INSA.

Death rates

Henrique de Barros takes stock of a year of pandemic. 

Henrique de Barros, from the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto, now talks about the balance of a year of pandemic in Portugal.

He begins by saying that the deaths were the first major concern of the specialists, but “at the end of this year it will be time to think about the weight of other adverse consequences of the infection, such as the continuity of the signs of illness after recovery”. The effects on children should also be studied. “It is at school ages that we will start to find infections, even because of the choice we made to vaccinate the most advanced ages, leaving the younger ones more susceptible to the encounter with the virus”.

“About 2% of people are dying” due to the disease, the expert said, with the risk being “significantly higher” in men than in women. “There is a big difference between the regions”, with Alentejo presenting the highest risk of death due to the virus.

There is a big difference between the regions and the lower risk of dying in the Madeira region is notorious compared to other regions in the country. In the center, LVT, Alentejo and Algarve the values ​​are higher.

In the months of December and January, the values ​​recorded were higher. The burden on the NHS had an effect on the greater probability of dying, he says.

Have the variants are at increased risk of death, especially the so – called Spanish variant. Both the English variant and the Brazilian variant will become important when the estimates are more stable – hence greater vigilance is needed in patients infected with these variants in view of the risk of dying.

Number of cases in health professionals “decreased a lot” with the start of vaccination

Regarding the effectiveness of vaccination, the infection decreased a lot in health professionals from the moment that vaccines started to be administered, notes Henrique de Barros. This is compared to the risk of infection in the general population.

Effectiveness of Vaccinations

Vaccine effectiveness is 98%, equal to that recorded in the trials. “It is an extraordinary security”

Regarding the effectiveness of vaccination, the infection decreased a lot in health professionals from the moment vaccines started to be administered, notes Henrique de Barros (the data are based on health professionals from the Centro Hospitalar de São João, in Porto). This is compared to the risk of infection in the general population.

Health workers had more cases than the general population, because they were more tested, but from the moment they started being vaccinated (they were the first to be vaccinated), the infection decreases faster and earlier than in the generality of the population. “From that moment on, there were half of the expected cases due to vaccination”, he says.

Even so, there was an average of 7 cases of infection for every 100 cases in the vaccinated population (0.07%). There is 98% vaccine effectiveness, he says. That is, it is equal to the efficacy verified in the vaccine trials. “It is an extraordinary security”, he says.

People who leave home are the most difficult to avoid visiting family and friends

There are some measures that are easier to take, such as wearing a mask, but others that are more difficult, such as keeping your distance or teleworking. However, there were “critical indicators” that were analyzed such as “avoiding visiting family or friends” and “staying at home”

In these two indicators, there were 36.9% of people who admitted that it was difficult or very difficult not to visit family or friends and 35.2% to stay at home.

In a finer analysis, Carla Nunes says that “it is the people who naturally leave home, the ones who most report having more difficulty in avoiding visiting family members with friends”

Carla Nunes, from the National School of Public Health, presents the barometer data on the various public health indicators and notes that there are “slight” changes both in behaviour and in the perception of the global health status.

“46.3% of people saying they had reasonable, bad or very bad or overall health status” and “1 in 5 of people – felt agitated, anxious or sad” in the past few days.

In addition, says the professor at the National School of Public Health, there was a “slight increase in worse behaviors”.

Vaccinations

The coordinator of the vaccination plan against covid-19, Henrique Gouveia e Melo, revealed that, in April, “about 1.8 million vaccines” will arrive in Portugal. The 70% vaccinees are still expected “by the end of the summer” and, in the second quarter, the number of inoculations will reach between 95 thousand and 100 thousand per day.

1.8 million vaccines have already arrived in the country, 95,000 of which went to the archipelagos. Until Saturday 1.3 million vaccines had been administered and, this week, another 177 thousand will be administered.

Protecting trees is creating more fire-resistant forests

Sunday, March 21st, 2021
This year we wanted to mark the day of the forest in a different way, calling attention to the fact that the best way to show our love for the forest and the trees, is to protect the ones we have”, said Prime Minister António Costa in the presentation of a structural prevention against rural fires and the provision of heavy machinery to forest producer organizations in Lousã.
On the day of the forest, instead of planting a tree, as usual, “we are using machines that will save millions of trees and it is much more than just planting a tree”, he said, referring to the heavy machines, worth total of 12 million euros made available to producer organizations and inter-municipal communities, which will only have to pay for their maintenance and fuel.
The Prime Minister stated that “protecting the trees we have is, often  cleaning the bushes that create a very high fuel load, because only then can we have a forest more resistant to fire ”and that has economic value for the populations.
Work on prevention
This emblematic act “also reflects the change in the strategy we announced in 2017 and which assumed that, when we talk about forest, when we talk about rural fire”, “we have to talk about these track machines, which have to work in the cold season, to create the forest prevention space”.
António Costa referred to the change in the ICNF culture, “which today delivers a better quality product to the country than it delivered”, pointing out “the number of kilometers of the fuel interruption strips already recovered, the work of cleaning forest areas already developed , all these landscape design operations, which are of the utmost importance”.
“This is a long-term job”, “it is a permanent job for the next centuries and it will be increasingly demanding because, with climate change, the risk of forest fire will be increasingly high”, he said, adding that “if humanity manages to fulfill the objectives of the Paris Agreement, of containing the increase of the Earth’s temperature by 1 degree, this means that the risk of fire in Portugal increases six times”.
Thus, “we must work more and more on prevention”, he said, referring to the decisions of the Council of Ministers of 4 March on the forests that draw “all we have to do until 2030, foreseeing an investment of 7 billion euros . It is an investment in fire-fighting equipment, in fire prevention equipment, but, above all, for structural transformation of the forest”.
The Prime Minister stressed that “structural transformation of the forest means avoiding monoculture, creating the landscape mosaic, where we have both fast-growing trees and native trees, some of which are slow-growing, whose ecosystem services we have to pay for, so that this investment is profitable ‘.
Do the reverse
We have to “create the conditions to reverse the cycle that the 20th century gave us of depopulation of the interior with consecutive degradation of the forest, in order to make it a source of income again, that helps us to create more wealth in the interior and to attract more population”.
“It is to do the opposite of what happened in the last century”, creating, with the investment of these 7 billion euros by 2030, “60 thousand jobs in the interior” and “all the other sources of wealth that we have to transform the forest, which has to stop being a threat and become an added value ”.
António Costa said that «no one can understand that, given that Portugal has such a strong, competitive and robust furniture industry, it cannot use the wood from our forest because it is not certified» and imports wood, just as it wastes «much of the fuel mass instead to transform it into products with higher added value or to recycle it for industries such as textiles and footwear ».
«What today is left to abandonment, because it is believed that it has no value, may have value. And on the day when everyone realizes that it has value, there will be an associated economic activity »that makes it worthwhile« to invest in cleaning the forest, in the slow growing trees, in the certified forest, in the quality forest, which will give value and help to revalue and repopulate this entire interior ”, he affirmed.
365 days a year work
The Prime Minister said that “the State invests in the acquisition of this equipment to make it available to forestry producer organizations”, “because they are the first interested parties and are the only ones able to reach each plot of land where it is necessary to intervene and that they are the owners’.
Prevention work “is 365 days a year and not just the distressing months and days when the inevitable happens, the fire starts to plow”.
“We know that the pandemic hinders and delays this process, and that is why we have extended the deadlines for cleaning, but we should not forget what we have seen since 2018: it is essential to clean the areas around each house, each village, the margins of carriageways, railway lines, electricity, all risk areas, ”he said.
The ceremony was attended by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, and the Secretary of State for Nature Conservation, Forests and Spatial Planning, João Paulo Catarino, and the President of the Rural Fire Management Agency, Tiago Oliveira.

Covid-19: Rapid test results must be reported to health authorities

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

Lisbon, 19 March 2021 (Lusa) – Rapid antigen tests for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 can only be sold to people over the age of 18 and all results must be communicated to health authorities, determines a circular published today .

The rules are contained in a joint circular from the Directorate-General for Health (DGS), the National Authority for Medicines and Health Products (Infarmed) and the National Health Institute Doctor Ricardo Jorge (INSA) that defines the inclusion criteria, operationalization of the use and reporting of results of covid-19 self-tests.

According to the rules now established, these screening tests can only be made available in the health system units, in pharmacies and in places of sale of non-prescription drugs and can only be “dispensed to individuals aged 18 or over years old”.

In addition, self-tests, including the necessary test, cannot be carried out in the places where they are dispensed.

Bearing in mind that these rapid tests “constitute an additional instrument for the early detection of cases of infection, thus contributing to the control of transmission chains, the results obtained must be reported to the health authorities”, also determines the circular, which defines the procedures to be adopted by those who carry them out.

Therefore, people who are symptomatic or who are in contact with a confirmed case of covid-19 should contact the SNS24 Contact Center (808 24 24 24), regardless of the test result.

When the test is carried out on its own initiative, a positive or inconclusive result must be communicated directly by telephone to the SNS24 Contact Center or by filling in an electronic form that will be created.

In the context of use in specific contexts, the communication of this result can be made to the attending physician or occupational health or occupational medicine, advances the circular of the health authorities.

According to the document, regardless of the context in which the test is carried out, the report of obtaining a positive result should be accompanied whenever possible with information regarding the commercial identification of the self-test (brand), manufacturer and identification code of the batch used.

In addition, the communication of the result triggers the prescription for confirmation test with PCR test, if there has been no laboratory test report with a positive result for the person in question in the last 90 days.

The Contact Center SNS24 shall transmit indications for the isolation of the person with a rapid positive result, including the issuance of the Provisional Prophylactic Isolation Statement, until the confirmation of the PCR confirmation test result.

“One of the limitations to consider for any rapid test is the possibility of a false negative or false positive result”, also advance the health authorities, warning that a negative result does not eliminate the possibility of infection by SARS ‑ CoV ‑ 2 .

Although it is a less frequent event, there is also the possibility of a false positive result, particularly when the prevalence of infection in the population is low.

“For these reasons, the result obtained by the SARS-CoV-2 self-test does not dispense with the adoption of infection prevention and control measures established at national level in the context of COVID-19, nor the guidance of a health professional whenever necessary ”, stresses the circular.

The realization of self-tests, established in an exceptional and temporary regime and framed in the National Test Strategy for SARS-CoV-2, assumes “particular relevance for the control of transmission chains, namely in the context of the gradual and sustained reopening of certain sectors activity, establishments and services “, explains the document.

In order to be included in this exceptional regime, rapid antigen tests must have, among other characteristics, the CE marking, which shows compliance with the requirements legally provided for in the European Union.

In addition, they must present performance data for nasal samples, and the test must have at least a sensitivity equal to or greater than 80% and a specificity equal to or greater than 97%, according to the manufacturer’s information.

It must also contain instructions for use in Portuguese and adapted to the self-test, with an illustration of the test collection and execution process, including the following information: method of waste disposal, information on actions to be taken in view of the result obtained and procedure of communication of results.

The covid-19 pandemic caused at least 2,692,313 deaths worldwide, resulting from more than 121.7 million cases of infection, according to a report made by the French agency AFP.

In Portugal, 16,754 people died from 816,623 confirmed cases of infection, according to the most recent bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.

Covid-19: Easter celebrations at the Sanctuary of Fatima broadcast ‘online’

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Ourém, Santarém, 19 March 2021 (Lusa) – All Holy Week and Easter celebrations at the Sanctuary of Fátima will be transmitted ‘online’, due to the impossibility of many pilgrims to travel to Cova da Iria due to the limitations resulting from the covid pandemic -19, was announced today.

“The Sanctuary of Fátima will transmit ‘all the celebrations of the Easter Triduum’ online, for the first time”, informs the institution, explaining that the initiative aims to “mitigate the impossibility that many pilgrims will live to travel to Fátima due to the prohibition of circulation between municipalities, in the period between March 26 and April 5 ”.

In an information made available on its website, the sanctuary, in the district of Santarém, adds that, “although all celebrations are open to the participation of all the faithful, in particular the residents of the municipality of Ourém, Cova da Iria connected to the whole world to allow everyone who wants to be able to be united to Fatima in what is the most important and symbolic time of the Christian experience”.

The celebrations transmitted online, from the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, will be interpreted in Portuguese Sign Language, namely “the Mass at 11:00 am on Palm Sunday, the Mass at the Lord’s Supper, on Holy Thursday at 6 pm : 00, the Passion, on Good Friday, at 3:00 pm, the Easter Vigil, on Holy Saturday, at 10:00 pm, and the Easter Mass, on Sunday at 11:00 am, ”says the same information.

The sanctuary emphasizes that “the rites foreseen in all these celebrations will be adapted to the sanitary moment that the country is going through and, therefore, in the Mass of Palm Sunday, each pilgrim should bring their own branch for the blessing, without the usual distribution in the sanctuary”.

In the “Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the gesture of the washing of the feet will be omitted, replacing it with an evocative gesture, and on Good Friday the worship of the Cross will also be done in a different way from the usual”, clarifies the Temple.

“Contrary to what is customary in the sanctuary, the Easter Mass will take place in the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, a place where most of the celebrations of the summer program, which will take effect from Monday, April 5th, will be held” , he says, adding that all celebrations will be broadcast live on www.fatima.pt, Youtube and Facebook.

Due to the covid-19 pandemic, Last year, the Sanctuary of Fátima, for the first time in its history, held Holy Week celebrations without pilgrims, behind closed doors, which are transmitted by the media and digital media.

In a message about the celebration of Easter, also available on the website of the Marian temple, the rector of the sanctuary, Father Carlos Cabecinhas, emphasizes that this year you can participate in the celebrations, with the exception that you cannot do it as before.

“We have to be very careful to ensure everyone’s safety. (…) Our spaces are prepared to welcome you, with all the security measures, but we also ask for your responsibility. Safety depends on the contribution of each one and the care of each one”, highlights the rector.

For Carlos Cabecinhas, the celebration of Easter “reinforces” hope and confidence “in these troubled times”.

 

 

PSP and GNR detained 911 people during a year of pandemic

Friday, March 19th, 2021

The PSP and GNR arrested 911 people, 303 for contempt of compulsory confinement, and closed 3,882 stores from the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MAI).

The data were sent to the Lusa agency when it marks a year in which the country entered a state of emergency to combat the covid-19 pandemic.

According to MAI, the 911 arrests by PSP and GNR were made between March 19, 2020 and March 15 this year.

MAI data also reveals that the Republican National Guard and the Public Security Police applied, between June 27, 2020 and March 15 this year, 38,825 administrative offenses, 32,662 (about 84%) of which were since January 15, when the country entered the second confinement.

The case records have been registered since June 27 last year because it was when the decree-law that established the regime of administrative offenses to deal with the pandemic came into force.

According to the MAI, most of the offenses are related to non-compliance with the general duty of home collection (20,362) and limitation of movement between municipalities (4,984).

The security forces also accounted for 3,402 offenses for alcohol consumption on the street, 2,841 for not wearing a mask on the street and public spaces, 1,123 for non-compliance with opening hours and 1,020 for non-compliance with the mandatory use of a mask in concert halls or public establishments.

Records were also drawn up for non-compliance with the mandatory use of masks in public transport (785), the rules of occupation, permanence and physical distance in places open to the public (687), the holding of celebrations and other events (509), the rules selling alcoholic beverages (460) and operating rules for restaurants and the like (552).

There are also records of 56 fines for refusing to perform the SARS-CoV-2 test.

In addition to having closed 3,882 establishments between March 19, 2020 and March 15 this year, these two security forces suspended 243 activities.

Since the pandemic began in Portugal in March 2020, 13 states of emergency have been decreed, and between May and November 2020, three situations of calamity, three of contingency and two of alert, some of which in only a few regions.

 

 

 

 

Effective journalism to combat the pandemic

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

News coverage served to guide the behaviour of citizens in order to protect themselves and listened to more sources, advances a joint study of three Portuguese universities and a research centre.

Journalism reinforced its importance in the context of the pandemic and constituted an “effective weapon” in the fight against covid-19, concluded a research team from three Portuguese universities and a research center that analyzed about three thousand news published during the vacancies in the pandemics that have plagued Portugal.

“In the first wave, the epidemiological situation was not as serious as we thought, but the news coverage was very intense and anticipated the worsening of the health situation, contributing to guide the behaviour of citizens in order to protect themselves”, begins by explaining Felisbela Lopes, researcher at the University of Minho and work coordinator.

 

However, news coverage eased during the second wave and was slow to start with the same strength as it did in March 2020, when the epidemiological picture started to worsen in January 2021. According to this study, the number of news about covid-19 published in the first wave was three times greater than in the third wave, in an equivalent period.

“These fluctuations can have consequences. It is important to recognize the role of journalism and make it a partner in situations of health crisis”, stresses Rita Araújo, researcher at the Center for Studies in Communication and Society at the University of Minho.

According to the study, in the first wave the news mainly focused, in addition to the epidemiological portraits, on themes of a social nature (21%), namely around work and education. However, in the second phase, social issues lost strength (7%) and national politics gained prominence (20%).

“It would have been important to refocus attention on other topics, because politicians have gained more visibility, but that visibility has not always been the result of real actions,” says the study’s coordinator.

 

The second wave was also richer in news about medical-scientific research, mainly because of the expectations surrounding the clinical trials of vaccines (9%). The third wave, on the other hand, was marked by a particularly negative news, which focused on the situation portraits (23%), namely with regard to the counting of deaths by covid-19. Within social issues (17%), education once again gained news space, which is explained by the closure of schools.

The analysis of the researchers says that it is the government that focuses communication on the management of the pandemic in periods of greatest tension (12.3%). However, there are differences between the rulers. The prime minister occupies the place of greatest evidence (2.7%). Next are the ministers of Health, the Presidency and Labor, Solidarity and Social Security. Only then do the Ministers of Education and Economy appear.

The President of the Republic, despite the communications addressed to the country at key moments, such as the prolongations of the state of emergency, takes on a discreet place (1.2%), which may be related to the prophylactic isolations to which he was subjected in the first and third vacancies and with the option to remain “more distant from the media space” during the pre-election campaign related to the presidential elections in January of this year.

The space left open by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa may have been used by the government, namely António Costa, who, according to the researchers, were well from the communicative point of view in the first wave, but who promoted zigzagging communication in the second wave.

“The success of the government’s communication in this third wave can only be gauged after seeing how the deflation will be communicated”, explains the investigation team.

More diverse sources

During the periods under study, journalism also listened to more sources, extending the siege to voices that usually have fewer opportunities to make themselves heard. Among the sources that have gained ground are professionals from different areas and specialists. Official sources are the most heard when it comes to covid-19 (with results ranging from 22% to 29%), but professionals from different areas and specialists have gained a new strength and almost rival the first (with rates between 20 and 25%, if only those who hold positions are taken into account).

 

“It is important to know how to keep these sources in the media after we leave the pandemic. They contribute to the quality of journalism and have shown answers that have helped to sustain the political decision-making process”, defends Olga Magalhães, researcher at Cintesis – Center for Research in Technologies and Health Services.

The study, which focuses on more than 3000 news texts and about 6000 sources of information from two daily newspapers (Público and Jornal de Notícias), integrates a broader research project, which aims to analyze the health communication about covid-19 in Portugal.

In addition to Felisbela Lopes (CECS / Universidade do Minho), Rita Araújo (CECS / Universidade do Minho) and Olga Magalhães (Cintesis), are part of the research team Clara Almeida Santos and Ana Teresa Peixinho (University of Coimbra) and Catarina Duff Burnay ( CECC-FCH, Universidade Católica Portuguesa). DP