With just a few days before Portuguese students return to face-to-face classes and thousands of adults to the workplace, the Director-General of Health and Minister of Health warned today that with this greater movement of people Portugal must prepare for a rise in COVID-19 cases in the autumn and winter season.
“Like the whole of Europe, we are facing a complex context”, Health Secretary Marta Temido began to say, on the day that marks six months since the appearance of the first cases of the novel coronavirus in Portugal. Temido explained this Wednesday at a press conference that with the return to face-to-face classes, seasonal flu and the usual increase in mortality that comes with it in autumn and winter will require increased protection against COVID-19.
“Until there is a vaccine, the effort comes from each one of us,” said the official. Graça Freitas, Director-General of Health in turn, said that Portugal will have a “challenge ahead”: between the 14th and 17th September, there will be “a movement of thousands of people” due to the reopening of schools, meaning that COVID-19 will undergo a “change of epidemiology “.
Freitas stated that the only document that remains to be delivered to schools is a “reference” that provides guidance on how to act in the face of a suspected case, a positive case or an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in a school. The document will be made public within days. “There are already reccomendations that allow schools to reopen” – published since July 3, said she highlighted..
Both the head of the DGS and the health minister stressed at the press conference the importance of returning to the classrooms, following the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). “WHO Europe declared that school activities shouldn’t be interrupted. It is in a difficult context that we are going to work”, says the minister.
With 177 active outbreaks in the country – 86 registered in the North region – Marta Temido recognizes that “the numbers of the epidemic situation have been rising for a week”, and, therefore, “a greater transmission of the disease” is likely. However, the minister did not comment on whether the widespread use of a mask in public will go ahead in Portugal, as it has in some other European countries. “It is still a very limited situation, there are many countries where it is still not mandatory to wear a mask on the street”.