Health authorities give thumbs up to family gatherings and soon return to school, but only with ‘due precautions’
The phased return to normality will provide the possibility of family gatherings, said the DGS (Directorate-General for Health) today. Family lunches and dinners are allowed, clarified the deputy Director-General of Health, during a press conference this Tuesday, but “with due measures, much caution, and social distance”.
“We cannot do this in the same way that we used to do, we have got to continue fighting this pandemic” underlined Deputy Diogo Cruz, recalling that Portugal has only left the state of emergency, not eradicated the outbreak. In the last 24 hours, the country registered 11 more deaths and 178 new cases of infection with the novel coronavirus, according to the daily bulletin of the Directorate-General for Health (DGS). These numbers are however still holding steady, not being a dramatic increase or decrease from what has been seen over the last couple of weeks.
There are now, in Portugal, 25,702 infected, 1743 recovered and 1074 fatalities. In view of these figures, but keeping in mind the beginning of the progressive easing out of lockdown, which started this Monday, the Deputy Director-General for Health indicated that the measures of strict hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and social distance are to be maintained, “under penalty of a second wave.”
“We must all play our role as public health enforces, and stick to the recommendations.”
There will be “more freedom and more permissions granted”, but these are accompanied by civic responsibility. “As I assume that none of us want a second wave [of the outbreak], we must stick to the recommendations. We can have a family dinner, but with due care and social distance.”
Since the beginning of this week, it has been possible to go visit small clothing stores, hairdressers, bookstores or libraries. Car stands have also reopened, as have finance delegations. Moreover, partaking in outdoor sports again allowed, even at sea, as long as you do it away from others. Meetings with more than ten people are still prohibited and in closed spaces there is a maximum capacity of five people per 100m2.
The use of masks is also mandatory in commercial spaces and public transport (in the latter, non-compliance is subject to a fine), as well as in closed spaces. When 11th and 12th year students return to school – which is scheduled for May 18th (date of the second phase of the government’s three stage plan to tiptoe out of lockdown) – they will also be required to wear masks.
Also within the scope of the return to normality, the Secretary of State for Health, António Lacerda Sales, announced during the conference that junior doctors will return to take their exams medical specialty exams, which had previously been interrupted to focus their efforts on aiding in the fight against COVID-19.
“Resuming exams in the health care career is fundamental. Thus, the tests will be held from 8th June 2020”, explained the government official. “It is good news for young doctors, but it is also excellent news for the National Health Service [SNS], which does not stop. It will allows us to provide further answers within the scope of COVID-19 and also beyond “he stated Mr. Lacerda Sales.
During the daily briefing, the number of screening tests carried out to identify the novel coronavirus that are carried out throughout the country was also discussed. In response to a question from RTP, the Secretary of State for Health stated that “during the weekend, there has been a decrease in testinh, not because of a lack of supply, but because there is probably a decrease in demand”.
On Sunday – the day on which the country recorded one of the smallest increases in the number of cases, with only 92 being reported – 5,500 tests were carried out, said the parliamentarian, in response to questioning from the press on Monday. On Saturday, there were 10 400 tests carried out and on Friday 12 500.
Currently, the country has carried out 44,000 COVID-19 tests per million inhabitants, “which puts us in a comfortable position at European level”, according to Lacerda Sales. Since March 1st, about 450 thousand tests have been carried out in total.