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Portugal mulls curbs despite high jab rate

Portugal has vaccinated 86 per cent of the country against the coronavirus but the prime minister has warned that the latest infection surge across Europe compels the government to consider precautionary measures.

“We can’t ignore the signs,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa said of the European Union’s growing number of new confirmed cases.

“The later we act, the greater the risk.”

Costa has convened a Friday meeting of health experts to assess what measures may be required.

After that, he plans to meet with the leaders of opposition parties.

“We have to be especially careful” because of the approaching northern hemisphere winter and flu season, Costa told reporters on Tuesday.

“We can’t let our guard down because of the vaccine.”

Infection rates, deaths and hospitalisations due to COVID-19 are relatively low in Portugal compared with the rest of the EU and Costa said he does not expect a return to lockdowns.

New restrictions on gatherings and rules on mask-wearing are possible, however.

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing serious illness but do not stop coronavirus infections.

From roughly mid-September through the end of October, Portugal officially reported fewer than 1000 new infections a day.

The daily number of new cases is now climbing toward 2000.

So far, daily deaths of people with COVID-19 remain in the single digits and the number of infected patients requiring ICU treatment has been below 100 since mid-September.

Portugal is administering booster shots to people over 65.

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