President wants renewal of emergency, fears ‘galloping’ infections

  • Lusa
  • 4 January 2021

Portugal's president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, reiterated the importance of a renewal of the state of emergency, because of the rising numbers of coronavirus cases in recent days.

Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who is up for re-election later this month, has said in a televised debate with a rival candidate that he is “worried” about the spread of Covid-19, that he felt that many people had been “lax” about observing guidelines over Christmas and that this could lead to a “galloping” increase in infections in the country.

The president spoke on the eve of a series of meetings with political parties on Monday to consult them on the possible renewal of the current state of emergency beyond January 7.

In Sunday’s televised debate with Tiago Mayan Gonçalves, the presidential candidate backed by the Liberal Initiative, de Sousa said that “there is again pressure on admissions and intensive care” as a result of rising numbers of coronavirus cases and reiterated the importance of a renewal of the state of emergency. However, he said that he favoured the renewal being for eight days, instead of the usual 15, due to a lack of data over the impact of extra mixing over the festive period.

“It is justified renewing for eight days and then looking at the numbers carefully, to see if they will not gallop when the Christmas and New Year’s numbers come,” de Sousa said. “The feeling I get is that there has been a laxity now.”

He cited the previous few days’ figures for new confirmed coronavirus cases, saying that there was a need to be “watchful”.

Asked if he ruled out tighter restrictions than currently in place in the country, de Sousa said that it was necessary to wait for the next session at which experts brief officials on the epidemiological situation.

“As you know, the idea is to avoid that as much as possible, but we have to listen to the experts,” he said. “On the 12th we will listen to them and I’m concerned about the latest developments, namely in homes.”

The presidential elections are scheduled to take place on 24 January. If no candidate secures more than 50% of votes cast, there would then be a second round, with the two best-placed candidates.