New lockdown looming in Portugal with record virus deaths

Portugal has suffered record numbers of coronavirus deaths and infections, making a new lockdown unavoidable, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said Monday.

At a cabinet meeting Wednesday, the government will decide restrictions similar to those imposed during the first lockdown last March, Costa said.

He was speaking after health officials reported a record 122 deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing Portugal’s overall toll to 7,965.

On Friday, officials logged a record 10,176 new cases over a 24-hour period. 

A total of 3,983 Covid-19 patients are currently in hospital — a new high — including 567 in intensive care.

“We are certainly facing a third wave” of the virus, Costa told journalists Monday.

Health Minister Marta Temido, blaming the recent surge in cases on the Christmas period and the cold snap, said the only solution is to bring down infection levels.

The government will consult public health experts on Tuesday before discussing how best to strengthen the restrictions already in place since early November.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said on Saturday that “there’s no alternative but a general lockdown.” The remark came during a debate ahead of January 24 polls in which Rebelo de Sousa is seeking re-election.