Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced new measures Thursday to slow record levels of the coronavirus that will see most of the country with limited mobility and a 1 p.m. curfew this weekend.
The health ministry registered 9,926 infections Thursday, the second-highest daily surge on record, surpassed only by Wednesday’s figure of 10,027.
For the country of 10 million people, the levels of infection are higher on a per capita basis than in the UK.
Costa said all areas with more than 240 cases per 100,000 will have to adopt the new measures beginning this weekend. Besides an early curfew, no one will be allowed to leave their municipalities.
He said rules will apply in 253 of Portugal’s municipalities. Just 25 towns and cities have a lower infection rate.
In an address to the nation, he said the next step will be a full-blown lockdown similar to the one last spring, but will wait until next week to decide.
“If these trends continue through to Jan. 12, we’ll have to do what’s necessary,” he said.
If Portugal does enter into a new lockdown, schools should remain open, said Costa.
The nation’s health minister told hospitals in the Lisbon area Wednesday to suspend non-essential services to make room for treating COVID-19 patients.
Besides record cases, Portugal has recorded some of its highest numbers of deaths this week.
An additional 95 deaths were recorded Thursday from COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 7,472.
As a consequence of higher contagion, the pressure on hospitals continues to increase.
A total of 3,333 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized and 514 are in intensive care units.
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