Government to assess mask-wearing in a fortnight

  • Lusa
  • 20 April 2022

"We have indicators that may allow to reanalyse this whole process in eight/15 days, and, if these indicators are maintained, it may ease these restrictions," said the assistant secretary for health.

Portugal’s assistant secretary for health said on Tuesday that the use of the masks, particularly in schools, will be reassessed in the next two weeks and will take into account the rate of Covid-19 transmissibility and mortality.

“At this moment, we have indicators that may allow the health authority (DGS) to reanalyse this whole process in eight or 15 days, and, if these indicators are maintained, it may ease these restrictions,” António Lacerda Sales told reporters when asked about the position of the National Health Council, which contested the maintenance of mask use in schools.

The secretary of state, who was speaking at the end of a ceremony marking the acquisition of 45 new INEM ambulances, said that it was important at this time to get through the Easter period, bearing in mind that it is a time of greater social mobility, and also the start of classes.

“It is good that we can let these next few days elapse to understand if this period of greater social mobility had any impact on the incidence, which has been decreasing,” António Lacerda Sales said, noting that Portugal currently has had 577 cases of infection per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days. The transmissibility index was less than one.

According to Sales, these indicators have not caused an impact on the overall mortality.

“Given these good indicators, and if we maintain them next week or during the next two weeks, the DGS will be able to reanalyse the use of masks and may ease these restrictions in one or two weeks in schools,” he stressed.

António Lacerda Sales also said that “this decision is imminently technical” and that “good technical decisions always support good political decisions”.

On the day the third term of the school year began, the National Health Council published its position against the maintenance of the use of masks in schools, considering that the infection by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus among the educational community “does not justify it”.

That government advisory body led by epidemiologist Henrique Barros “views with apprehension the insistence” on the use of masks “in the context of schools and day-care centres”, considering that “this personal protection measure” was “a proportional application”, should “be restricted to other more specific contexts”, such as health services or nursing homes, and “not to the school community, where the infection does not have an objective dimension that justifies it”.

On Wednesday, the director-general of health said that, although Covid-19 in children is “usually mild”, the end of the use of the mask in schools “is still a great risk with the transmissibility that still exists”.

Covid-19 is an infectious respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, detected in late 2019 in China and spreading rapidly worldwide.

Omicron is the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant and the most transmissible.

Although effective, the covid-19 vaccines in circulation do not entirely prevent infection and transmission of the disease.