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Covid-19: Risk Matrix: Government differentiates based on population density

COVID-19: RISK MATRIX: GOVERNMENT DIFFERENTIATES BASED ON POPULATION DENSITYThe Government decided to maintain the current risk matrix, but it will start to differentiate the territories with low population density, in relation to the others, which only retreat into deconfinement if they exceed twice the risk threshold currently set. 

The Algarve now has five municipalities: Vila do Bispo, Aljezur, Monchique, Castro Marim and Alcoutim.

The announcement was made yesterday by the prime minister, António Costa, during the usual press conference at the end of the Council of Ministers meeting, which defined new rules in the process of discontinuing measures to combat the covid-19 pandemic.

“Maintaining the matrix, it will be applied distinctly in low-density territories and in high-density territories,” said the prime minister, explaining that restrictions will only be applied in the former if they exceed twice the thresholds set for the rest of the country.

The current risk matrix is ??composed of two criteria, the transmissibility index (Rt) of the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus, which causes the covid-19 disease, and the incidence rate of new cases of infection per 100,000 inhabitants at 14 days, indicators that have served as the basis for the Government’s assessment of the process of easing restrictions, which started on March 15th.

Now, with the new changes, in municipalities with low population density, which represent more than half of the continental territory, the red line that forces municipalities to withdraw from the deconfinement plan is now fixed at 480 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days and these territories are under alert when they exceed 240 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the same period.

“The criterion for applying the incidence rate is heavily penalizing low-density territories”, explained António Costa, adding that, on the other hand, since the covid-19 pandemic is the effect of human contact, “the risk in low-density territories is, by nature, lower than in high-density territories, in particular large cities and metropolitan areas”.

Non-residents in the Algarve will be counted in the municipality of origin.

Asked about the specific situation in the Algarve region, which receives thousands of national and foreign tourists during the summer months , the prime minister explained that the positive results of diagnoses of covid-19 are registered at the users’ residence address and not at the area where the contagion took place and, therefore, the region will not be penalized by any positive cases among Portuguese tourists.

“It will not be this factor that will significantly change the incidence rate in the Algarve” , he stressed, adding that the same does not apply, however, to foreign tourists.

António Costa also answered a question about whether the country’s opening to British tourists would be reviewed, due to the epidemiological situation in the United Kingdom where the SARS-CoV-2 variant detected in India is already dominant. He stated that no particular restrictions are foreseen. 

“There is no news of a change in the pandemic situation in England and, as is well known, the restrictions we impose have nothing to do with nationality, but with the epidemiological situation in each of the countries. The United Kingdom continues in good health, its health improves, and, therefore, English tourists continue to be welcome to the our country”.

At the same press conference, the prime minister also announced the deconfinement plan for the coming months, until the end of August, and similarly to what has happened so far, restrictions will be applied to the highest risk councils. and evaluated weekly.

Specifically, in municipalities that record an incidence rate of cases of infection with SARS-Cov-2 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days above 120, or 240 in low-density municipalities, in two consecutive assessments, will once again be limited to mandatory telework, the restaurants will have to close at 22:30, cultural shows, commerce and retail will close at 21:00.

Original article available in Portuguese at http://postal.pt/