Portugal’s health minister, Manuel Pizarro, as announced that “everything will be prepared so that, if and when necessary, we can adopt Covid-19 control measures in Portugal that are deemed necessary.”
Asked by journalists on Tuesday at the end of a visit to the Hospital Doutor Fernando da Fonseca (Amadora-Sintra) if Portugal intends to do the same as several countries, including European Union member states such as Spain, Italy, France and Sweden, recently announcing control measures at airports for travellers from China to prevent the entry of carriers of the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease, the health minister said that “it is a measure that is being considered and is being prepared”.
“When we announce it, we have to be prepared to adopt it immediately”, he explained.
Manuel Pizarro said that the ministry of health is in “close contact” with the other European Union countries, international health organisations, the Portuguese ministry of internal administration, and the ministry of foreign affairs.
The minister highlighted “the very high rate of vaccination coverage” against Covid-19 in Portugal, which “gives very significant safety and protection”, but acknowledged that this does not mean that there is not the “possibility of a spread of the pandemic, particularly given the pandemic in China”.
On 29th December, the European Union refrainedfrom following the decision by several countries to require Covid-19 tests for travellers arriving at their airports from China, but promised to remain vigilant and ready to act together.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Tuesday on its official website that, together with EU member states and the European Commission, it has increased its monitoring activities after the number of Covid-19 cases reached a record level in mainland China.
The Centre also reports working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO)/Europe and WHO/Headquarters, stressing it is in regular contact with the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) and major CDCs worldwide.
The number of Covid-19 cases has reached a record level in mainland China, peaking on 2 December 2022, and over the past three weeks, the incidence has decreased, probably also due to a smaller number of tests being performed, resulting in fewer infections being detected, according to the ECDC.
After strict travel restrictions at the height of the pandemic, the European Union returned this autumn to a pre-pandemic free travel system, but member countries agreed that an “emergency brake” could, if necessary, be activated at short notice to meet an unexpected challenge.
Covid-19 is an infectious respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, detected three years ago in China that spread rapidly around the world; it has taken on several variants and subvariants, some more contagious than others.
The disease has been an international public health emergency since 30th January 2020 and a pandemic since 11th March 2020.