LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s coronavirus cases passed 100,000 on Monday, with nearly 2,000 new infections in the past 24 hours, days after tough new measures to contain the disease came into force.
“Everyone’s tiredness is legitimate but it cannot legitimise failure,” the secretary of state for health, Antonio Sales, told a news conference. “We continue to depend on each other – and our success is the success of Portugal.”
The nation of just over 10 million people initially won praise for its quick response to the pandemic.
It has recorded a comparatively low 101,860 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,198 deaths.
But, like in most European countries, infections have risen again. On Friday, Portugal hit 2,608 cases, the highest single-day figure since the pandemic started, although testing has also increased.
Gatherings are now limited to five people, weddings can be attended by a maximum of 50, university parties are banned and there are heavier penalties for rule-breaking establishments.
Authorities have repeatedly said it would be unbearable for country’s economy to shut down again, as happened during a six-week lockdown in March.
“We are at all costs trying not to implement confinement,” Sales said.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa warned last week that the government was not afraid of further restrictions if the spread of the outbreak did not slow.
Parliament will vote on Friday on a government proposal to make masks compulsory in crowded outdoor spaces and whether the government’s tracing app should be mandatory for some workforces.
Plans to make the “Stay Away Covid” app compulsory have stirred controversy, with the Portuguese Data Protection Authority saying it “raises serious questions related to citizens’ privacy”.
(This story corrects vote date in paragraph 10 to Friday from Thursday)
(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Additional reporting by Patricia Vicente Rua; Editing by Giles Elgood)