LISBON, Portugal (AP) — While most of the Europe Union grapples with new surges of COVID-19 cases and brings back curbs on what people can do, Portugal is going in the other direction.
Starting Monday, the Portuguese will be able to go to restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas. Classes will resume at high schools and universities. Schools for younger children are already open, as are café and restaurant esplanades.
After becoming the world’s worst-hit country by size of population in January, Portugal has seen the pandemic ebb significantly during a lockdown that authorities began loosening four weeks ago.
The country’s pandemic situation “is very much under control,” Ricardo Mexia, head of Portugal’s National Association of Public Health Doctors, said Friday.
Portugal, he told the Associated Press, is reaping the fruit of a lockdown that began in mid-January and “went on probably a bit longer than was strictly necessary.”
The virus incidence rate per 100,000 population over 14 days — a key pandemic metric — stands at 68. At the end of January, it was 1,628.
Meanwhile, the number of hospitalized virus patients has fallen to manageable levels. The intensive care units in the country of 10.3 million people were treating more than 900 patients in early February, but now are looking after 101.