State of alarm in Portugal as daily cases soar to 2,000

Lisbon, Oct 14 (efe-epa).- Portugal reported 2,072 daily cases on Wednesday, a new record during the pandemic and a significant jump from an average of 1,200 in recent days.

A state of alarm will come into force at midnight along with a series of new restrictions, including a ban on more than five people gathering in public spaces.

There were also seven coronavirus deaths recorded over the past 24 hours as well as 1,619 new active cases, bringing the total to 34,583.

Portugal has logged more than 91,100 confirmed cases and 2,117 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Prime Minister António Costa described the evolution of the country’s contagion as “serious”.

The government raised the country’s state of alarm after six consecutive days with more than 1,000 cases each.

Costa appealed to individual responsibility before announcing the fresh restrictions which will be in force for at least 15 days in a bid to stabilize the infection curve.

Among the new measures is a 50 person cap on celebrations such as weddings and baptisms.

It came after outbreaks have been traced to wedding celebrations in the country as well as clusters of infections at universities stemming from students who had attended parties.

The government is also planning to make masks obligatory in outdoor public spaces, which is currently only a recommendation.

A virus tracking app Stayaway Covid could also become mandatory in workplaces, educational centers, military sites and public administrations.

Fines will also be increased to 10,000 euro for establishments that fail to comply with the rules.

Pressure has increased on the country’s hospitals with 41 coronavirus patients admitted on Wednesday, the highest daily increase in more than five months, bringing the total to 957 including 135 in intensive care.

Medics wrote an open letter to officials warning that “an immediate change of course in the strategy” was needed and calling for a “major investment” in health services.

Experts also flagged growing mental health concerns at an online forum titled Conversations in times of pandemic.

Professor José Miguel Caldas de Almeida highlighted three main areas of concern: anxiety, depression and aggravation of psychiatric illnesses. EFE-EPA


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