The end in the mandatory mask in places such as schools, supermarkets or shopping centres is already starting to be felt according to the accounts of Henrique Oliveira, a professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico, who revealed to CNN Portugal the latest data on Covid-19 in Portugal.

“We are going to have a rise in cases. The effect [of the removal] of the masks is being noticed. It’s still slight, but cases are likely to go up,” he says.

The forecast is, therefore, that in the coming days the barrier of 15,000 daily cases could be reached again, something that Henrique Oliveira says will only happen if tests continue to be carried out on a regular basis, which has not always happened.

“Maybe we won't see that, because, as the tests are no longer free in pharmacies, people will stop resorting to tests so much”, he said.

If these forecasts are confirmed, it would be an increase to almost double the number of cases, compared to the latest report from the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) which showed 57,267 cases from 19 to 25 April, a daily average of 8,181 cases.

Henrique Oliveira's estimate is that the number of cases will rise over the next two to three weeks, but then a decrease is expected.

“No apocalypse”

“After two, three weeks, our models tell us that, despite having taken off the mask, that ascent will be reversed and we will start to see a descent that will accentuate in June and July. No apocalypse is coming,” he said.

Even so, the professor recalls that this scenario is drawn without taking into account the possibility of the appearance of a new variant, which at a statistical level has appeared every four months.

Henrique Oliveira concludes that the forecasts point to “a peaceful summer”, not least because only a third of the deaths currently recorded by Covid-19 are actually due to the disease. The others refer to cases of people who had another cause of death but who tested positive before they died. The fact that the number of deaths is relatively low and that Portugal has a high vaccination coverage make it easier to face a possible new peak.