Portugal will impose local curfews on Monday night to contain a record increase in coronavirus cases as the pandemic crosses the grim milestone of 50 million cases worldwide. Curfews have also been announced in Romania and Hungary.
“We can have no doubt that everything must be done to curb the pandemic,” Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa told a news conference on Sunday. “If we do not do that, we will have to take increasingly restrictive measures and compromise with the month of December.”
The overnight curfew, from 11pm to 5am, takes effect in 121 of the country’s 308 municipalities, including Lisbon and Porto, on Monday when the country enters a 15-day state of emergency. Night workers are excluded.
Costa also announced that residents of the 121 municipalities – home to around 70% of Portugal’s population – will not be able to leave their homes between 13 and 05 during the next two weekends, both Saturday and Sunday.
Some commercial outlets will be closed during these times but restaurants will be able to offer takeaway services, Costa said, acknowledging that the weekend’s action will inevitably hit the sector hard.
Similar measures will be taken in Hungary and Romania this week, with officials in both countries warning that hospitals will soon be overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients.
Several European countries have already taken more drastic steps, with France, Italy and the United Kingdom among those who have reintroduced partial lock-in to counteract increased infection.
Portugal, with just over 10 million people, has registered a relatively low 173,540 cases and 2,848 deaths but it reached 6,640 cases on Saturday, the highest daily figure since the pandemic started. Testing has also increased.
A total of 2420 people are in hospital, of which 366 are in intensive care units – more than the April peak of 271.
The health care system, which before the pandemic had the lowest number of chalk care beds per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, can receive 800 Covid-19 patients at the ICU.
The curfew comes when the coronavirus pandemic has reached a new sober milestone: more than 50 million positive cases worldwide since the outbreak began.
Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker reported more than 50.2 million Covid-19 cases globally as of Sunday. There have been more than 1.2 million deaths from the disease worldwide since the pandemic started.
The United States, with about 4% of the world’s population, represents almost one – fifth of all reported cases. The country also has the world’s highest number of deaths, more than 237,000.
( Jowharwith REUTERS)