When I arrived in rural Portugal 5 years ago I realised I was going to live in one of the safest countries in Europe, and in one of the safest parts of that county, namely the eastern region of Castelo Branco. Here today I think myself very lucky on this count; Portugal itself is ‘ahead of the curve’ of the covid-19 pandemic, and the region of Castelo Branco where I live has so far no recorded cases.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa introduced ‘lockdown’ type restrictions a month ago while there were less than 300 known cases of coronavirus, and shortly afterwards declared a state of emergency. Now, in the third week of the emergency, the daily percentage increase has fallen from a peak of 11% to 9% and to 7% and we are waiting to see how well it has been contained.
All healthcare workers here are provided with personal protective equipment and supermarket staff have this also: in the larger supermarkets shoppers are restricted (per square metre of floor space) and provided with gloves, while staff continually wipe down shelves and trolleys. Outside the store they queue 2 metres apart.
In Portugal the virus first appeared in the main cities of Porto and Lisbon, both on the Atlantic coast and both with international airports, and is still concentrated in those locations. It has since spread to several inland cities and is encroaching on most areas of western Portugal, but has not yet touched the eastern regions which border on Spain.
To date there are under 12,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and just over 300 deaths.
These online newspapers give detailed and up-to-date information:-
Analysts believe the early implementation and strict enforcement of lockdown, and the geographical isolation of Portugal at the western edge of Europe account for the slow spread of the virus.