Covid-19: Infeciologist says it is premature to move forward with easing restrictions

Fernando Maltez said, however, that some measures can be alleviated

Infeciologist Fernando Maltez today considered it premature to ease restrictions to control the Covid-19 pandemic, arguing that caution should be proceeded with until the majority of the population has the vaccination schedule with full booster.

«I think that we want to go very fast and, from my point of view, it is not justified», Fernando Maltez told the Lusa agency, on the eve of yet another meeting between experts and political leaders, convened by the Prime Minister, to assess the epidemiological situation in the country, at a time when the number of infections and the transmissibility index (R(t)) of Covid-19 are falling, which is already below 1.

Although the epidemiological situation is improving, the director of the Infectious Diseases service at the Curry Cabral Hospital, in Lisbon, considered it “too premature” to alleviate infection control measures, while a part of the population still does not have the vaccination schedule with full booster. .

"While we have a significant part of the younger population, namely children from 5 to 11 years old, unvaccinated, I think we should not go too fast", he added, defending that the concern should be "accelerating the vaccination process".

Fernando Maltez said, however, that some measures could be alleviated, namely the requirement to show vaccination and recovery certificates in certain circumstances and the use of a mask in outdoor environments.

“But I think we should proceed with prudence, with caution, always monitoring what is being verified in the reduction of numbers”, in the percentage of positive testing performed and in the pressure on admissions to the ward and intensive care.

In his view, it would be “more appropriate” to wait “another 10 or 14 days” to intensify these relief measures.

For the specialist, it was “too early” to have ended the requirement for passengers arriving in Portugal by air to present a negative test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, warning that while SARS-CoV-2 is circulating , there is always the risk of new variants coming from regions where the virus circulates more intensively.

Fernando Maltez warned that there is a likelihood that new variants will enter Portugal, which may "bring with them greater disease severity, greater mortality, greater transmission capacity".

Portugal registered 24 deaths from Covid-55 in the last 19 hours, totaling 20.620 since the beginning of the pandemic in the country, in March 2020.

On whether all these deaths were caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2, Fernando Maltez admitted that there are deaths that were not caused directly by this virus, «despite being present», but following heart failure, a stroke myocardial infarction, stroke or other comorbidities.

“In many circumstances, in many patients, it is very difficult” to know if the cause of death is exclusively the result of comorbidity, he said, explaining that SARS-CoV-2 is “a virus that infects several organs”, from the gastrointestinal tract, the renal tract, the central nervous system, the cardiac system.

Therefore, he underlined, «trying to understand if the death was exclusively due to a myocardial infarction or if the SARS-CoV-2 that was there contributed, helped, accelerated, predisposed this death is often difficult from a clinical point of view to do so. ».