Portugal: Christmas blamed for Covid-19 surge – ECDC

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Thursday attributed the “remarkable increase” in the number of Covid-19 cases in Portugal “to the relaxation” of restrictions at Christmas and “to a lesser extent” to the English variant of SARS-CoV-2.

This follows the release of a report on the “Risk of the spread of new and worrying variants of SARS-CoV-2”, on Thursday by the ECDC seen by Lusa, where the European agency notes that “Portugal has seen a remarkable increase in the number of reported cases of Covid-19 in recent weeks”.

“This increase has been attributed mainly to the relaxation of restrictions during the holiday season, but also, to a lesser extent, to the spread of the English variant in some regions of the country”, the European agency said in the document.

The document reiterated its “concern” about new SARS-CoV-2 mutations, particularly the variants detected in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, given the high transmissibility. The ECDC pointed out that only 72 cases of the English strain had been reported in Portugal by 12 January.

“So far, the sampling strategy for sequencing has been systematic, focusing on sequencing samples taken during one week a month,” the European agency explained.

In the same report, which called for tighter restrictions and faster vaccination of risk groups given the current epidemiological situation, the ECDC said that Portugal has one of the highest Covid-19 mortality rates in the European Union and the European Economic Area (EU/EEA) and also has more admissions and more reported cases.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused at least 2,075,698 deaths from over 96.8 million cases of infection worldwide.

According to the most recent health bulletin, in Portugal, 9,686 people have died out of 595,149 confirmed cases of infection.