"As fast as possible and as slowly as necessary", said Marta Temido about the possible easing of restrictions.

Summarising the conclusions of a meeting to discuss the situation in Portugal, the official said that it is possible to consider that the country is already in a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite admitting that there are still many uncertainties, opening the door to reviewing the measures currently in force.

Specifically, Marta Temido mentioned a new testing policy, the evaluation of contexts in which the mandatory use of a mask may fall and the change in situations in which the presentation of the digital certificate is required.

“We are talking about issues related to the possible change in the testing policy, making it more focused, with the presentation of digital certificates in certain spaces, topics such as the use or not of a mask where we can be more protected”, she explained, adding also the possibility of reviewing the rules regarding the capacity of certain spaces.

No deadlines

Without confirming deadlines for the implementation of these measures, the minister referred any decisions to the next meeting of the Council of Ministers, to take place at the end of the week at the time of going to press, and said she hoped that it could be “as quickly as possible”, noting that, on the other hand, it will also be “as slowly as necessary”.

In addition to easing restrictions, the strategy for the new phase of the pandemic should also be based on three other axes.

“It is essential that we continue to watch. Another axis is that of vaccination, it is essential that we undertake the booster doses that have not yet been done and that we vaccinate people who are in a position to be vaccinated”, she pointed out, adding the axis of testing.

At the same time, the Minister of Health also added that Portugal is seeking to negotiate the purchase of new drugs for the treatment of serious illness and has also opened the door to new public health measures, which do not depend on the executive.

“[These measures] relate to issues such as the number of days that a person who is positive has to stay in isolation, whether that number of days varies depending on mild, severe or other symptoms, and even measures related to that which is the organisation of circuits in terms of patient care”, she explained, referring the decision to the Directorate-General for Health.

Affirming that Portugal faced the fifth wave of the pandemic “with much less restrictions than in previous waves and than in other countries”, Marta Temido also said that the country managed to overcome the winter in a controlled way, insisting on the need to maintain the monitoring the epidemiological situation.

“We still have many uncertainties regarding, for example, seasonality or not, the immunity resulting from the infection, the vaccine effectiveness, which leads us to still have to consider that we are in a scenario of uncertainty and not the coexistence that we have in relation to other diseases,” she said.