Portugal and Covid-19: Pandemic management by the country

Despite an ageing population and underfunded health care, Portugal is coping with the coronavirus crisis much better than other Western European countries. The Portuguese have respected the restrictions and politicians have decided to unite in a common struggle for a return to normalcy.

The situation in Portugal was analysed by a journalist from Politico. The author of the publication notes that Portugal has ten times fewer cases of infection than Spain. The mortality rate of COVID-19 is also much lower: in Portugal it is slightly over 3%, compared to 10% in Spain, 12% in the United Kingdom and 15% in France.

Portugal covid-19 gestion

Portugal manages Covid-19 better than other European countries

Portugal’s results are all the more surprising given that it is the EU country with the highest number of citizens over 80 years of age (with the exception of Italy and Greece). Moreover, the Portuguese health service has been struggling for years with under-funding and poorly equipped medical entities. Portugal has only 4.2 beds per 100 000 inhabitants in intensive care units, the lowest figure in the EU (Spain has 9 and Germany 30 per 100 000 inhabitants).

Due to the weakness of our health care system, the situation could be worse here than in Italy or Spain. The Portuguese have understood very well that if we want to survive this, we have to do more than others. Everyone has shown great solidarity,” said Ricardo Baptista Leite, a doctor specialising in infectious diseases, in an interview with “Politico”. Portugal began introducing restrictions (school closures, restrictions on movement) when 245 cases of infection were confirmed. Spain did so only after 2140 confirmed cases. A state of emergency was declared in Portugal after 448 confirmed infections, while Spain did so only after 10 times the number of confirmed infections.

Journalists note that in Portugal, the coronavirus appeared one month after the first infections were diagnosed in Spain and Italy. This allowed authorities to observe and learn from the mistakes of their neighbours. The government almost immediately banned public gatherings, especially after more than 100,000 people participated in the Women’s Day March in Madrid.

Covid-19 and Portugal: citizens’ self-discipline and politicians’ solidarity

Health experts especially praise citizens who, with great discipline, respect the restrictions. According to a survey carried out for the Portuguese RTP, 51% of the inhabitants leave home only once a week.

“Since the beginning of the crisis, the Portuguese have understood that staying at home is the best way to support our frontline health professionals. We should reward the enormous self-discipline that the Portuguese have shown.”

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa

The Portuguese newspaper Politico also notes that the government of Portugal, unlike Spain and Italy, does not have to face criticism from the opposition during the epidemic. Centre-right groups have declared their support for the socialist government in the fight against the coronavirus.

“This is a time of cooperation, not opposition. We are not dealing with a socialist government now, we are dealing with the Portuguese government. We are having very frank but encouraging discussions on health care, which shows our unity in the fight for the good of the country.”

Leader of the ruling party

Politicians have notably united to accept the government’s decision to speed up the asylum procedure for migrants, which aims to provide them with care, or to grant a quicker way out of prison for 10% of prisoners.

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