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Delta accounts for nearly 90% of Portugal’s new cases

The Algarve in Portugal. Credit: Belga

The Delta variant now accounts for almost 90% of new coronavirus cases detected in Portugal, according to a report published on Tuesday.

According to the latest report from the National Institute of Public Health (Insa), the relative frequency of the variant first identified in India reached 89.1% in the week ending 27 June, up from 45.8% three weeks earlier.

Among the countries on the front line of a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the Delta variant, notably in Europe, Portugal has seen the number of new daily cases exceed 2,000.

If the surge continues, the figure could double by mid-July, Health Minister Marta Temido warned in an interview on TVI on Monday evening.

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To curb the outbreak, the government decided last week to reimpose a night-time curfew in the 45 most-affected municipalities, including the capital Lisbon and Porto, the country’s second largest city.

Asked about a possible tightening of health restrictions, Temido said she could not “rule out any measures”.

However, she said it would be difficult for the government to reinstate new restrictions without declaring a new state of emergency, which would need the support of the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who has already shown himself to be against it.

Speaking last week, Belgian infectious diseases specialist Erika Vlieghe warned that Portugal’s mounting Delta variant infections mean it should be considered just as worrying as India, Brazil and South Africa.

“There is a list of countries where worrying variants of the coronavirus, such as the Delta variant, are circulating in large numbers and where the epidemic is gaining ground. India, South Africa and Brazil are included, as are other countries outside Europe. But Portugal is also ticking the same boxes,” argued the infectious disease specialist.

As it stands, Belgium is allowed to implement stricter measures for tourists returning from Portugal by requiring an extra Covid-19 test, but a quarantine or travel ban would go “too far,” according to European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders.

Vaccination Snapshot

Portugal is trying to increase the pace of its vaccination campaign, reaching a new record on Monday of some 141,000 doses administered in one day.

With a third of the population already fully vaccinated, Portugal, with a population of about 10 million, was the fastest-vaccinating country in the world last week, administering doses to 1.49% of its inhabitants each day.

The Brussels Times