Portugal quicker to take action than Italy, Spain and UK

in News · 27-03-2020 12:33:00 · 16 Comments

Portugal was quicker to take measures to combat covid-19 than Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, indicates a new comparative study.

The analysis of public health policy moments in the fight against the pandemic was carried out by the authors of the Covid-19 Barometer, a partnership between the National School of Public Health (ENSP) / Expresso.

The barometer is a research project that follows the evolution of the pandemic in Portugal and whose first results were released today.

Comparing with Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, Portugal took measures earlier, considering the number of infected, the number of deaths and the days that have elapsed since the existence of 50 cases.

Concretely, Portugal suspended sporting and cultural events two days after having 50 people infected, Spain and the United Kingdom 13 days later and Italy 16 days later. The three countries already counted deaths and Portugal did not (Italy already had 366).

In Portugal, schools closed four days after the first 50 cases of covid-19. In Spain they spent 12 days, in Italy 16 and in the United Kingdom 18.

Transport restrictions were in Portugal after seven days of the first 50 cases of infection, also a little earlier than the other three countries, and the suspension of non-essential services and social detachment happened 12 days after the first 50 infections , also earlier than in the three countries under analysis.

The suspension of non-essential services occurred in Portugal when there were 14 deaths, but in Italy the measure was only taken when the number of deaths was 1,016. When schools closed Portugal, there were still no deaths from covid-19 to report, but Spain already had 84, the United Kingdom 233 and Italy 366.

Comparison of measures is a relevant form of learning, say the study's authors, stressing that there was “a certain heterogeneity” in decision-making and that the response to the virus was gradual and not radical.

And then, they also warn, the cause and effect of the measures can be influenced by issues such as effectiveness. "Likewise, since the time interval between the implementation of each measure is less than 15 days, it will be difficult to assess its individual effect in reducing the epidemiological curve", the document adds.

The document concludes, citing “recent studies”, that in general public health measures have an impact on the control of the pandemic, that any single measure is important, and that “only through a combined set of measures can contain the spread of the virus ”.


Death toll in Portugal includes both "deaths BY covid" and "deaths WITH covid", and also people who died in hospitals and at home. Other countries only count "deaths BY covid" that have occurred in hospitals, which means that Portuguese numbers are overestimated - still, they are inferior per million of citizens!
BCG vaccine was surely a key issue; the second, imho, is that in Portugal, civil society was ahead of politicians: the people demanded politicians so that actions could be taken, not the opposite; third, we benefited from the fact that we were the last Western Europe country with confirmed cases, which means that we were able to "forecast" what would happen in Portugal looking to Spain and Italy cases, and; fourth, we had a tremendous movement of inland solidarity: people manufacturing protection devices with fabric and 3d printers to give free of charge to neighbours and hospitals, companies producing and offering equipment, hotels offering to accommodate clinical and security staff free of charge, people and companies offering food and other goods. I am only afraid that, with the ease of restrictions, the second wave can bring greater problems to all countries.
Still, I believe that the best example in the fight against covid is being provided by Taiwan!

By lUCAS from Lisbon on 25-04-2020 01:32

Yes i think portugal is better tehn spain italy and uk was more fast.
And dont put Portugal down people from uk .
Uk was take action very bad

By Arnas Labanauskas from UK on 24-04-2020 03:20

We are in Canada and I can honestly tell you we are the Portugal to the USA just like Spain. The numbers don’t lie. They did something right. Here here Portugal. Good job once again.

By Paula Beekman from Other on 10-04-2020 01:42

Stop complaining this is a pandemic and all the countries are doing their best for their people.bitching about a government is not going to stop this the world needs to help one another. RIP to all those who have died and will die god help us all.

By Susan Ferreira from UK on 04-04-2020 08:50

Portugal in comparison with other WE countries practice BCG vaccine this is the key...

By osmos from UK on 03-04-2020 11:40

Very proper time decision for save from corona.

By Maqsudur rahman from Other on 02-04-2020 12:39

Why is it that all the Brits know how to do is complain? If you are not happy in Portugal, then you more than welcome to join Boris and the lot. Portugal might not have the resources of some of our European neighbors, but give it credit when credit is due. The Portuguese Population has always followed the rule of law compared to most other nations, not only in Europe, but worldwide. That's why it's the 3rd safest country.@ Nicolas Cardy glad you're in the UK mate..Shout out to your Prime Minister..Hope he has a speedy recovery from his flu..@Jalan considering Portugal has a population of around 10 million, it has one of the lowest death rates in Europe per capita. Simple Maths!

By Victor from Lisbon on 01-04-2020 06:54

Oh, I don't think so Portugal, you are so good at talking yourselves up - just look at the differences in population between Portugal and the other countries you name ! Nothing at all is being done in rural areas (apart from the media.) - deliveries impossible - wages, unemployment etc. etc ?

By Jalan from Algarve on 31-03-2020 02:10

in the comments you can really see how split the opinions are... Certainly Portugal authorities are dealing with this as good as they possibly could! Thanks for that! I am just worried that they are get carried away with the new powers they have been given... It all has to make sense! To go for a walk on the beach hasn't harmed nobody and to go for a ride on your bike or jogging neither... Oppressing a whole people because of a few who don't want to play by the rules is going to backfire. After 14 days of home isolation the goverment need to re-open the country now with good guidance what can be done and what has to wait!

By Thomas Wissmann from Lisbon on 30-03-2020 07:20

Whatever the governments decide to do, unfortunately there are always bad examples everywhere but. As key worker I've seen plenty of people in pubs up to the last moment here in Bristol. The outcome for each different reality depends on many factors but enforcement by authorities needs to be harder everywhere.
Take care and be extremely careful as the spread is really discreet!!

By Francisco Pinto from UK on 30-03-2020 01:39

This nonsense. I know of a UK business owner who flew into Faro last Friday. He was not tested or asked to quarantine in Vilamoura where he has a holiday home. He has had builders at his home in groups of 5-6, cleaners in groups of 2-4 cleaning the builders mess and has been socialising in the houses and gardens of local restaurant owners every evening since last Friday. He also said he had been on a new date with a local resident he had only met once 3 weeks ago for a short lunch.

By Dawn from UK on 29-03-2020 10:09

Nicolas Cardy from the comment above talks talks talks with no knowledge. Like all British they think that they are the best ones but what data shows is that they elected a prime minister that couldn’t handle the pandemic and until the last moment was calling it a flue.

This tells a lot about the British people and about the validity of his comment.

Yes, its true, outside the big cities Portugal has less Health Care quality, but who doesn’t have?

What we can understand today by facts is that we planned better, more wisely and with better results so far. Face it!

Keep safe home.

By Rui from Lisbon on 29-03-2020 11:38

Caldas da Rainha, near where I live, has had preparations in place for weeks now. I feel safer here than in England where our daughter is struggling to buy supplies. Mentioning barking dogs in this context seems petty.

By Sandy from Alentejo on 29-03-2020 11:01

I don't think this is anything more than government propaganda to try and make themselves look like they are actually doing something... They are not, and the truth is they are powerless complacent and utterly useless.. Outside Porto & Lisbon they are inadequate, understaffed, and have hardly any prep for the pandemic anywhere at all.. Portugal is actually one of the worst places in Europe to be right now especially if you are not Portuguese.

By Nicolas Cardy from UK on 28-03-2020 05:07

Gnr a company licensed to print money for the mafia great, I have never known a bunch of incompetent people who are supposed to look after us, how about sorting the barking dogs out!!! That would make us better

By Josh from Beiras on 28-03-2020 01:17

The real point is the cases that are not even reported. The WHS suggest it is between 6 and 10 per registered case. Maybe even much higher...nobody knows unless someone starts to investigate and makes a proper report...

By Thomas Wissmann from Lisbon on 27-03-2020 02:11
Interactive Topics, send us your comments/opinion on this article.

Please note that The Portugal News may use selected comments in the printed edition of the newspaper.