"Based on estimates, we know that the prevalence of this variant is already around 20%, knowing that it could be 50% in the Christmas week and 80% by the end of the year," said Marta Temido.

The minister said that estimates by the National Institute of Health Doctor Ricardo Jorge (INSA) point to a doubling of cases of the Omicron variant every two days, underlining the “apparent less seriousness of the disease and consequent (lower) lethality and the apparent decrease in vaccine effectiveness after the primary vaccination”.

"Since the vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic infection after vaccine booster is estimated at 70 to 75%, vaccines still have their protective effect," said the minister, calling for vaccination.

Marta Temido highlighted the uncertainty about the behavior of this new variant of the coronavirus and stated that "the next few days will be decisive to understand the impact of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the "proportional response" applied with the measures defined by the Government.

"What we know is that, if the variant is transmitted more, everyone has to do more. More mask use, more tests, more vaccinations and more border controls. We all have to be prepared to do more," she said.