Location, community spirit and luck help some Algarve counties to "escape" the virus

in News · 29-05-2020 16:14:00 · 0 Comments

The peripheral location, low population density, community spirit and also luck are some of the reasons that help explain the absence of cases of covid-19 in four of the 16 municipalities in the Algarve according to the regional health delegate.

Alcoutim, in the northeast of the Algarve mountains, Monchique, also in the mountains, but at the other end of the region - both on the border line with the Alentejo - as well as the “neighbours” Vila do Bispo and Aljezur, on the west coast, the latter also “touching” the Alentejo, have not yet registered any cases of infection with the new coronavirus.

Questioned by Lusa about the reasons for the absence of cases in these municipalities, the regional health delegate of the Algarve placed her peripheral territorial realities among the main reasons that justify the fact that there were no contagions due to the new coronavirus.

“We analyzed these issues in our department and, first of all, it immediately comes to mind that they are more peripheral municipalities with a lower population density”, said Ana Cristina Guerreiro.

In addition to dealing with municipalities “where few people reside”, there is also “little movement of entries and exits of visits to other places, or entry of visitors during this time”.

The same source stressed the importance of “having quickly stopped the holding of markets and fairs”.

These four municipalities, located at the east and west ends of the region, also have a mostly elderly population, which, in addition to being smaller than on the coast, has a “greater community spirit”, said the delegate of health of the Algarve.

“In the big cities and in the larger areas, there is perhaps more difficulty in understanding this, but in the small circles we all know that our behaviour is also important for others and there is more solidarity between people, protecting or trying to protect the elderly population. And these cases are all from municipalities with a lot of elderly population”, she said.

On the other hand, the mechanisms implemented for the distribution of essential goods, medicines and home care were also “very good” to achieve this result, she said.

With a population density of five inhabitants per square kilometre and about 3,000 residents, Alcoutim, in the northeast Algarve, one of the most desertified counties in the region, maintained, until Thursday, 28 May, zero cases of infection, having had, since the beginning of the outbreak, just one suspected case, which has not been confirmed.

The Mayor of Alcoutim, Osvaldo Gonçalves, told Lusa that, about a month and a half ago, when a case was suspected in a fireman, “the contingency plan was immediately activated” and the people who had had contact with him “Were isolated to do the tests”.

Osvaldo Gonçalves guaranteed that it was the “only episode of suspicion” and that “since then, there have been no more suspicions or positive cases”, even though “the critical areas where there was a greater number of deaths and serious cases in the country have been tested, which were the nursing homes”.

The mayor considered that the “natural isolation that people have because of the territory”, composed in large part by small housing units scattered throughout the mountains, is among the main factors that led to the non-detection of cases of covid-19 in the municipality.

Another reason, he pointed out, was the “implementation of an entire door-to-door and house-to-house support system for people with special needs for basic necessities”, which allowed “to prevent people from leaving home”.

At the opposite end of the Algarve, on the west coast of the Algarve, the Mayor of Aljezur attributed to luck, low population density and the effort of the population to comply with the recommendations of the health authorities, the fact that the municipality has not registered, until now, any case of Covid-19.

"Among half a dozen factors, there is luck, but it was above all the effort and responsibility of everyone in complying with the recommendations that was decisive and that enabled these results to be achieved", underlined José Gonçalves.

In the mayor's opinion, the absence of large shopping centres in that municipality of Costa Vicentina, “where people could accumulate” and the network response of the various partners - Chamber, Parish Councils, entities and associations - in safeguarding the elderly, “to stay at home”, were also decisive.

“Now, with the lack of definition, we are expecting to see what the future will be like, because people are starting to arrive for a few days of vacation, but I believe that everyone moves with caution, aware of the protective measures”, he stressed.

In the Algarve, according to the Directorate-General for Health, there were, on Thursday, 28 May, 366 confirmed cases of infection and 15 deaths associated with covid-19.

The municipalities with the most cases in the district of Faro were, on the same date, those of Albufeira (76), Faro (67), Loulé (64) and Portimão (38).


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