New state of emergency, government decree-law has “no change”, says António Costa.
“The measures have continued to produce the desired effects in controlling the pandemic. This is evidenced by the reduction in the transmissibility factor of the disease, the famous R, which is relatively stable, and a continued decrease in new cases”
Costa says that “this is not yet the time for the deconfinement”, although Portugal continues “sustainably” to see the number of new daily cases of infection decrease.
The Prime Minister underlined the “clear improvement” in the European context, when the country was the worst in the EU just two weeks ago.
However, he warned, “all improvements are relative”, this being “the second reason for maintaining the measures “. Portugal is better, but still with levels of new cases and hospitalizations four times above the beginning of the deconfinement of May 2020.
And Costa adds a risk factor: “A very high incidence of the British variant (49%), with a higher risk of contagion. This also justifies the greatest prudence regarding the deconfinement.”
And another one: “We have been executing a vaccination plan. We can confirm only the objective of having 80% of people over the age of 80 vaccinated in March, as well as the full vaccination of those over 50 years of age with major comorbidities.”
“I am certainly the first to share the same anxiety so that we can quickly turn the page on this confinement and I am well aware of the cost to everyone’s life,” said the prime minister. “I am well aware of the cost for the companies, for those who have lost their jobs,” he added, ensuring that the Government has sought to “always maintain balance”.
António Costa said that he will present the deconfinement plan on March 11th.
Costa said, that it is early to be discussing dates and measures of that plan as there is a message that the Portuguese should set for the next fifteen days. “We must remain confined for the next 15 days. This is the message, nothing should change” and “We must avoid confusing citizens with messages that end up inducing wrong behaviour.”
“As for schools, it is known that the Government resisted as much as it could to close schools, because we are aware of the cost that it has in the children’s learning process. Therefore, it was really the last step we took and, therefore, it is natural that it will be the first measure to be announced, that of the reopening of schools “, announced Costa.
After some insisting questions “As we did a year ago, it will be a gradual opening plan, which will progressively cover successive areas of activities and will be guided by a set of objective criteria that will allow us to measure the evolution of the pandemic, “said the Prime Minister.
Asked about the Government’s relationship with the President of the Republic in adoption of the measures, Costa said that “as the President of the Republic made clear yesterday, there has been institutional solidarity between all since the beginning of the pandemic”.
“It is necessary that the country respects and accepts the measures that we have been announcing. So far, there has been no measure that was adopted without total consonance between the Government and the President of the Republic “, guaranteed.
“We are living in a dangerous phase. There may be the illusion that the worst has already been overcome and that we are not in danger of regressing. If there is one thing we have to strive for, it is not to regress in something achieved with such a sacrifice by the Portuguese.” warned Costa.
We have to avoid going backwards at all costs. On March the 2nd, it’s the anniversary of the first case. We have lived since then moments of great optimism, of great difficulty, but there was always something that the Portuguese understood well: that the best possible balance was necessary. We will have succeeded sometimes, sometimes not so well. But we have to be very careful.” said Costa.