If Portugal follows similar deadlines to Wuhan’s, isolation set to end between May 31st and June 3rd
Portugal still does not have a set date in sight for the end of social isolation. Prime-minister António Costa admitted to press this week that restrictions will be lifted throughout the country at “multiple speeds”, meaning that the lifting of restrictions will be made according to the characteristics of each region and the age distribution of the population, with the hypothesis of keeping the elderly isolated until the end of the year. But unlike Von der Leyen – who advised against even thinking about booking for summer holidays – Costa has asked the Portuguese to look ahead for hope, and to make plans “inside” the country for their vacation.
But what if the example of Wuhan is followed in Portugal? When will social isolation measures be lifted in this scenario?
The city of Wuhan experienced 11 weeks of confinement. There were 76 days of restrictions on freedom and orders to stay at home. At this time, only patients with COVID-19 or people who are under the supervision of health authorities are obliged to remain at home.
So far in Portugal, since the declaration of a State of Emergency by the President of the Republic and the respective definition of measures by the Government, which since March 20th have recommended that the general population remain at home, having closed all shops considered non-essential. Telecommuting was also recommended, with certain industrial and service companies remaining open.
In Portugal, the suspension of classes was the first restriction measure to be applied on March 16th, resulting in the withdrawal not only of thousands of children and young people at home, but also of parents of children under 12 to take care of their children.
Starting from this considerable decrease in the movement of people on the streets as of March 16th with the period of 76 days of confinement witnessed in Wuhan, Portugal would be set to remain at home until May 31st. If we wish to consider the effective date of the State of Emergency and respective measures, then the period of social isolation could go slightly further, until June 3rd.
It is worth pointing out that this is purely speculative. It is not easy to compare the two realities because the contours of social isolation in the two locations are different, for example, China is a country with a strong already existing “respiratory etiquette”, exemplified by the commonplace use of masks previous to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is recalled that these already existing social habits, that aren’t common amongst most Portuguese, is namely due to Asia’s previous experience with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in the last 20 years, alongside the aim of reducing the inhalation of polluting compounds.
On the other hand, Portugal took measures much more quickly than China, straight away after the first serious case of COVID-19, which could allow for a faster exit from isolation measures.
The World Health Organization has also shown itself to be concerned about the “premature lifting of restrictions” that could lead to a “lethal resurgence” of the virus. “We know that some countries are already preparing the transition to get out of the ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions. The WHO wants to see these restrictions lifted, like everyone else. But at the same time, lifting these restrictions too quickly can lead to a lethal resurgence, “warned Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, in a briefing of the organization carried out last Friday.
According to the official, “the way out [of containment] can be as dangerous as the way in, if not properly managed” and also underlined that “no country is safe” from the effects of the pandemic.