LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal will accelerate its vaccination rollout in Lisbon to start with 30- and 40-year-olds in June, the country’s health secretary said on Tuesday, in an attempt to slow down a rise in cases in the capital.
Those aged 40 or older will receive the vaccine from 6 June, health secretary Antonio Lacerda Sales said, and those aged 30 or older from 20 June.
Health authorities will also ramp up testing in the region, targeting schools, vulnerable populations like asylum seekers, and crowded areas like central train stations, setting up mobile testing units for passers-by.
Pharmacies across Lisbon already offer a free antigen test every 15 days to locals.
“We must act in a preventative, proactive manner, to break chins of transmission,” Lacerda Sales said.
Portugal has lifted nearly all restrictions in a step-by-step loosening of the rules underway since April after four months of strict lockdown.
While cases have remained relatively stable nationwide at around 300 to 600 new cases per day, Lisbon has seen a steeper rise in May, particularly among young adults, the health secretary said.
The country has reported a total of 845,840 cases and 17,021 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Just over 30% of the population of 10 million people has received a first dose of the vaccine, with 16% fully vaccinated, according to health ministry data.
The country is in the second phase of its vaccination plan, targeted at 50- to 65-year-olds.
It is not known when vaccination will be extended beyond that age group nationwide.
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee and Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Richard Chang)