Graça Freitas noted that there is "an apparent tendency for the numbers [of cases of contagion] to increase", noting that the last two weeks, atypical for having had fewer working days, cause variations.

Mainland Portugal has 417 active outbreaks of the new coronavirus, particularly in old people's homes, she said, stressing that in those homes vaccination will be delayed for at least 28 days.

"In a home with an active outbreak, which has cases at that time, obviously the vaccination is postponed," Graça Freitas said during the press conference accompanying the Covid-19 in Portugal.

"It is only a postponement, because you don't vaccinate in an outbreak", she reiterated, indicating that there were homes where vaccination was planned for this week, which had registered cases in the meantime and therefore had to be postponed.

Of the 417 active outbreaks, 284 are in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region, 55 in the north, 29 in Alentejo, 25 in the centre region and 24 in the Algarve, "mainly identified in residential structures for the elderly, less in schools and some in health institutions".

Graça Freitas said that the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 first identified in the United Kingdom, which is already circulating in Portugal and other countries, is being studied by the health authorities and the Portuguese scientific community.

For the time being, it is known to have a greater capacity to spread, although it is not identified as "more serious, aggressive or virulent".

However, just because of this greater capacity to spread, "it may have an increased risk" in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, she noted.

The Director General of Health said that the National Health Service, even with an increase in the number of cases, "will certainly still have the capacity to adapt by reorganising its care offer.