Portugal will decide next week on potential tougher restrictions that could amount to a new lockdown if a worrying surge in coronavirus infections continues, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday (January 7).
“If the very likely evolution (of the pandemic) is confirmed next week, we will have to adopt more restrictive measures as it has happened in other European nations,” Costa told reporters after a government meeting.
The daily number of COVID-19 cases in the nation of around 10 million people reached a record high of 10,027 on Wednesday (January 6), putting increasing pressure on the health system.
On Thursday, infections dropped slightly to 9,927, the second-highest daily case total since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total number to 446,606. More than 7,000 people have died.
Many have said the surge in cases was due to the government’s decision to ease restrictions around Christmas.
Costa said he would wait until a meeting with health experts next Tuesday to make a final decision but said the new rules could resemble March’s lockdown, which forced all non-essential businesses to close doors.
During the six-week lockdown in early 2020, people over 70 and those considered vulnerable were only allowed to leave home to grab essential goods, go the doctor or walk their pets. All other citizens were urged to stay at home.
Though the lockdown could be similar, schools will remain open this time, Costa said.