World, Europe

Portugal sees rising trend in COVID-19 cases

Lisbon region becomes hotspot in country hailed for early response to pandemic

Alyssa McMurtry   | 28.05.2020
Portugal sees rising trend in COVID-19 cases FILE PHOTO

OVIEDO, Spain

With another 304 coronavirus cases confirmed in Portugal on Thursday, the country saw the number of cases increasing steadily for the fifth day in a row.

Thursday’s spike in the number of cases brings the total up by 0.97%. It’s the largest daily increase registered in the country since May 8.

According to the Portuguese Health Ministry, the country has now 31,595 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,369 deaths.

The metropolitan area of Lisbon was home to around 88% of the new cases reported on Thursday, becoming one of the epicenters of contagion in the country, according to the newspaper Diario de Noticias.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said on Thursday the situation in Lisbon demands “special attention.”

He said the current situation will be taken into account and could affect the plan to further ease lockdown measures in the Lisbon area on June 1.

Portugal has been widely praised for its early response to the pandemic.

It was one of the first European countries to call a state of emergency and enforce a lockdown. In doing so, it managed to avoid the widespread outbreak that was seen in neighboring Spain.

Spain has counted over 27,000 COVID-19 deaths and 236,700 cases so far. Although Spain’s population is around four times that of Portugal, its COVID-19 death toll is nearly 20 times higher.

Yet, Spain has been registering fewer new infections than Portugal in recent days. On Wednesday Spain reported 231 new infections compared to 285 in Portugal.

Portugal has been gradually easing its nationwide lockdown since May 4, whereas Spain’s worst-affected areas like Madrid and Barcelona only began to emerge from confinement this week.

The regional government of Extremadura in western Spain is now pushing to reopen the border with Portugal as soon as possible, local daily Hoy reported on Thursday.

Both countries are highly reliant on tourism and keen to salvage the summer season.

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