Initially, the Portuguese Pulmonary Federation made the call to bring back mask use in public, even in outdoor settings, and then the President of the Republic also stated that the return of masks should be resumed.
Speaking to journalists at Teatro Municipal São Luiz, in Lisbon, when asked about measures to be adopted in Portugal given the growth in the number of cases and deaths by Covid-19 in Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa considered that one should "wait for the meeting of the Infarmed" with experts, which is scheduled for 19 November.
Asked, later, if he understands that the mandatory use of masks in the street will be resumed, the head of state replied: "That, of course, that is evident".
While detailing the number of Covid-19 cases currently compared to the same period last year, the President called for calm. “Let's consider it calmly, calmly. We have a vaccination that we didn't have. And we will act accordingly," he said.
The Portuguese Pulmonary Federation has called for the return of the mandatory use of masks in all indoor public spaces and also a return to remote working.
In a letter to the Minister of Health and the General Directorate of Health (DGS), the federation considers that the epidemiological situation of Covid-19 "is again a source of concern", noting that the Transmissibility index (Rt) remains above 1.
“In our opinion these measures should have already been adopted. Just look at the daily situation report that has been released and see how the Rt has been rising for four weeks and for two weeks it has always been above 1”, said the vice president of the Portuguese Pulmonary Federation (FPP), Jaime Pina.
Pina warned that cases will continue to grow and that the risk matrix "is already in the red again".
“These graphs show that the Covid-19 situation in Portugal is deteriorating and will continue for at least another two weeks. At this point, measures should be applied”, he defended.
To reverse the growth of the pandemic in Portugal, the FPP asks the Government and the DGS to make the use of face masks mandatory again, not only in public spaces indoors, but also outdoors, when adequate distance cannot be guaranteed.
The federation also advocates speeding up the current process of boosting vaccination (3rd dose) to groups that have already been selected (immunocompromised patients and people over 65 years old), extending this reinforcement to all health professionals and that the administration of the second dose of vaccine to those who already had Covid-19 be accelerated.
"The fact that we have had a huge success in the vaccination campaign will not prevent an increase in more serious cases, which imply more hospitalisations, greater use of intensive care and a higher mortality rate", says the letter, stressing the urgent need for measures to halt the pandemic's progression.
The FPP also defends that “public recommendations on the importance of other measures of individual protection: social distancing and hand washing and disinfection” should be renewed.
Speaking to Lusa, Jaime Pina gave the example of the football game between Portugal and Serbia, on 14 November, with more than 60,000 people at the Estádio da Luz: “Everyone was without a mask. Even in open space, people are side by side and without a mask”.
“It is one of the examples of the places where the use of masks should be made mandatory again. It's taking two steps back and then being able to take a step forward,” he added.
Prime minister, António Costa, has called for Friday, 19 November, at 3pm, a new meeting of politicians and specialists at Infarmed's auditorium in Lisbon, regarding the situation of Covid-19 in Portugal. The last time one of these meetings took place was two months ago, on 16 September.