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 ”.