In this fortnight, we significantly reduced the number of infected and the number of dead. And the virus spread indicator reached its lowest levels in a year.
Everything, proving your lucidity, determination and courage.
In this situation, it is very tempting to defend that it is necessary to open and deconfine as soon as possible. And schools would be the sector most proposed to start this opening.
The reasons invoked, we all know them.
The positive evolution would no longer fall and, if it had, it would not be for the values of a month ago.
The economy and society are in deep crisis.
Culture, associative movement, youth sports, restaurants, hotels and a lot of commerce suffer even more.
Mental health is increasingly undermined.
Schools and children and young people, in particular – see their second academic year run over.
It would be enough to guarantee the existence of a faster and wider vaccination. It would be enough to cover whatever was opening. Starting with schools, vaccinating earlier in schools. It would also suffice to ensure broader and more urgent testing and screening. In the case of schools, with simple, quick, but reliable tests.
With the double security of vaccines and tests, it would be possible to deconfine, in stages, without the risks taken in the past.
These are the reasons for those who want or wait for the announcement of immediate steps to end last month’s regime.
Everything that is said has logic, corresponds to what many Portuguese think and is seductive.
It is even the most seductive, given the fatigue of these demanding weeks.
There’s another side of the story.
The number of hospitalized patients is still almost double that indicated by intensivists, who are on the ground dealing with the most serious. The number in intensive care is more than double of that recommended, to avoid risks of further collapse.”
You can never say that there is no relapse or retreat and the numbers that have put us in the place of the worst in Europe and the worst in the world are not from a year or months ago, are from a month ago, as are from three weeks ago the queues of ambulances outside hospitals.
Worse than what the economy, society, mental health and schools are experiencing now, would be if we had to return to what we have just experienced now, the next weeks or months.
We know that due to the delay in the delivery of vaccines, there will probably not be vaccination in the next month, month and a half, which guarantees everything that we want to guarantee, right from the schools.
We know that testing and tracking, in a very short period, in terms that allow the necessary security, can be complicated, even if only for schools.
These opposite reasons, which make you think twice about creating expectations of hurried openings, however seductive they may be.
So what is the challenge for those who have to decide?
The answer is simple.
Deciding must be based on the conscience of the decision maker, and not on the concern to follow the opinion of each moment. Which at one time wants to close it out of fear, and after wants to open it out of tiredness.
Deciding in conscience is based on objective and clear criteria, such as indicators of the severity of the pandemic, pressure on health structures, vaccination, testing, screening and must bear in mind the right signals to give to the Portuguese.
Deciding presupposes, in this pandemic, institutional solidarity and strategic solidarity between the President of the Republic, the Assembly of the Republic and the Government. With a single purpose – to face the common cause together. So it has been. So it will continue to be.
It being true that the President of the Republic is, by the very nature of things, primarily responsible.
I said and I repeat today.
We have to win this year’s summer and autumn until Easter.
In other words, Easter is a risky time for confused or contradictory messages.
Like, for example, opening without criteria before Easter, to close it immediately afterwards, to open again after it. Who would take paschal rigor seriously?
It is, therefore, a matter of prudence and security to maintain Easter as the essential milestone for the current strategy.
Can this mean more mobility, by saturation? It can. But a wrong sign of a misunderstood facility can also. Can do it even more.
Does this imply a few more weeks of heavy sacrifices and, therefore, that the State goes further in emergency measures and in support of the future start-up? It implies. But the alternative could be having to take the same measures later, multiplied by two or three.
In short, let the next days be of studying and preparing it well.
But, let the day after be better chosen, without precipitations, to not repeat what has already happened.
And never confuse studying and planning with deconfinement.
To be more clear: planning for the future is essential, but to rush for a deconfinement because of the numbers these days will be as tempting as it is frivolous. Even because we know the numbers always go up faster than they go down.
Quoting an almost classic: “A people that does not know its history, is condemned to repeat it”.
We know this year’s pandemic history well.
We will not make the same mistakes.
And we have the hope – not the hope, the certainty – that if we are sensible, the worst is over.