COVID 19: HOW PM COSTA MADE A GREAT EXAMPLE IN EUROPE
| Marcelle Mello Rodrigues, Special Correspondent, Lisbon, Portugal - 18 May 2020

Fight with COVID19 in Portugal:

Portugal's reaction to the pandemic was thus one of the fastest in the EU, accompanied by countries such as the Czech Republic and Austria, which also implemented measures before or shortly after the first death by covid-19, according to data collected by the University of Oxford on the response of governments and summarized by the digital newspaper Politico.

By Marcelle Mello Rodrigues

Lisbon, May 19, 2020: Portugal was the country that best reacted to the pandemic in Europe, the Portuguese strictly followed the recommendations of WHO - World Health Organization - and right at the beginning of the pandemic news. Empty streets, closed shops, zero tourism, and because it has only one border with Spain, it was quickly closed. Cruise ships with tourists were also canceled, the entry of these tourists was prohibited in the country and only cargo ships properly inspected were allowed to dock at the ports.

They managed to stabilize the peak of the contagion of the disease, the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Souza, decreed a state of emergency on March 18 and the efficiency was to act in time together with the collaboration of the population.

The main source of savings in Portugal is tourism. As we are in low season it was also a factor that contributed to the control of the disease, containment measures were taken and schools closed in early February. The outbreak of the disease was controlled by borders, by the ban on circulation on public roads, and the collaboration of people.

Access to the public health system was given to all foreigners, public transport free of charge and still empty. Following strict discipline and small measures, that made all the difference in fighting the pandemic in Portugal.

The first concern I noticed was in relation to the health system - public and private - in facing the pandemic. The conclusion was the same as that of other countries: there is no structure to meet a sudden demand for ICU beds. However, cooperativism between the public and private sectors is present here.

The first cases of Covid-19 in Portugal (imported from Italy and Spain) were registered on March 2, when other European countries already had tens or hundreds of infected people.

But it was even before the first death that the Portuguese government began to adopt measures to contain the outbreak, starting soon with the suspension of events with more than 5,000 people and flights to Italy, on March 9th.

On March 12, António Costa's executive decreed the closure of all public and private educational establishments, as of March 16, and other non-essential spaces began to be closed at that time, given the state declaration. emergency services throughout the country (in force since 00:00 on March 19), which also brought restrictions on circulation.

Portugal's reaction to the pandemic was thus one of the fastest in the EU, accompanied by countries such as the Czech Republic and Austria, which also implemented measures before or shortly after the first death by covid-19, according to data collected by the University of Oxford on the response of governments and summarized by the digital newspaper Politico.

Taking into account that 30% of the Portuguese population is over 60 years of age, since the middle of Carnival, the measures of containment and confrontation were applied with the decree of a state of emergency on March 18. In practice, there were a number of restrictions on circulation and potential agglomerations. Priority was given to health professionals and employees of essential services, including supermarkets and pharmacies. The decree also brought some flexibility, such as permission for short walks with dogs and physical exercise outdoors for up to two people.

Who oversees? The police

Opposition parties have been collaborating with the government in their measures. This stance makes Portuguese society realize that there is almost a unity in parliament to face Covid-19. Such alignment facilitates the acceptance of measures by the population and also strengthens democracy. In the words of Prime Minister Antônio Costa, of the Socialist Party, “first we have to protect people”. Minister Marta Temido, who is leading the project and has been doing an excellent job with the agencies and health professionals, Prime Minister António Costa also declared that the government works to preserve jobs and, for that purpose, announced a three-month emergency plan to be continually reassessed.

How and when we will come out of this crisis is unknown, but the Portuguese people, despite the 43 deaths and almost 3,000 confirmed cases until March 25, have been showing their strength and commitment, markedly by the brave and competent health professionals.

Prime Minister António Costa was on 11th May on TVI's chanel: "Você na TV" program to talk about the coronavirus pandemic and the consequences it could have on the Portuguese economy.

And one of the strong phrases of the Head of Government was really about the future and the wish that Portugal does not have an austerity plan again to face a crisis. "Ten years ago there was a problem with the state's finances, now we have a health problem that has affected the finances. These are different situations. So, now, we have to control the pandemic, and then we can deal with the economy, so that it does not affect the finances. Only if we fail in health and in the economy will we have problems in the finances of the State ", began by saying António Costa.

The prime minister considers it "immoral" that there were redundancies in Portuguese companies at this difficult time. And in that sense, he left a warning: "We must avoid at all costs that austerity enters the lives of the Portuguese. And for that we must make a great effort to keep companies alive." because, "regardless of therapy ten years ago, the disease is completely different" now. “We have a health problem that has hit the economy. The solution is to control the pandemic, so as not to affect the economy, and then to treat the economy, so that it does not affect state finances ”, he stressed.

About nursing - old people - homes

Asked about the problem of nursing homes, which are dangerous sources of contagion, António Costa recalled that at the beginning of this health crisis "the decision was made to prohibit visits to homes" and in that sense he insisted on extolling a factor that is now of great importance importance: "Employees must take measures not to be transmitters. Therefore, a priority must be to test them all so that, especially asymptomatic ones, they do not transmit the disease."

Cultural Market:

Culture is also a concern for António Costa, who is aware that "the cancellation of the shows affected thousands of people. It was not just the artists, because behind them there is an immense machine".

"The State paid for the shows it had hired, despite not being held, and some municipalities did the same, postponing the shows. We created lines of credit for support, but very important is the fact that some artists have created a way to continue to work, now online", he said, later expressing the opinion that they will have to be paid for this service to take their shows to people. "Teatro Aberto put some old plays online, other theaters did the same, but this must not break the normal economic cycle", he stressed.

With regard to the solidarity of the members of the European Union, the Prime Minister admitted that "it is urgent that the European Council meet and begin to build the reconstruction plan" that will be needed after the pandemic.

"The Netherlands is the country that survives the most from the domestic market and has to understand the crisis that strikes us, so that we can all recover together. Luxembourg, Belgium and Ireland have supported our positions, so this is not a problem of lack of understanding of Northern European countries. And as far as I know, Holland was absolutely isolated at the last meeting of the Eurogroup, but the German government has been constructive ", he explained.

Cases in Portugal today:

Portugal recorded in early May, 1063 killed by covid-19. These data were revealed in the latest epidemiological bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

As for the number of positive cases, 28.319 confirmed cases have been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.

There are also 3.198 people considered "cured". For a person to be considered "cured", they must have at least one negative test and be asymptomatic (if they are being treated at home) or two negative tests (if they are hospitalized).

Return of activities at the beginning of May: 04/05/2020

The Secretary of State for Health, António Lacerda Sales, said that there are, to date, more than 175 thousand users inserted in Trace Covid-19, citizens who have been accompanied or who are still being followed at home by their family doctor in the context of of the pandemic. "Day one of the lack of definition began today, but we already have more than 60 days to live with the covid-19. The economy gradually reopens from today on to society. We must, however, continue to maintain the door for the transmission of the virus closed completion. It is in each one of us. We continue to trust the responsibility of the Portuguese inside and outside the home ", said the Secretary of State for Health, also asking the population to continue to maintain and reinforce physical distance and frequent washing of the hands.

Prime Minister António Costa: “We have already managed to contain the pandemic without killing the economy”. He also revealed that the State has already granted 5 billion in guarantees, and reiterated the promise of lay-off payments by the end of the week. The Prime Minister, António Costa, also promised this week faster support for the reopening of economic activities, arguing that the pandemic of the new coronavirus is under control and that it is time to take steps to revive the economy.

The government and the social partners signed this Tuesday a declaration of commitment with a view to work together for the security in the economic reopening that started this month, and that day 18 should continue with the resumption of the activity in the restoration.

In the declaration, the Social Concertation partners affirm that they are willing to work together so that the recovery is “made under conditions that are safe from the point of view of public health, also in the workplace, the first condition for it to be sustainable over time and so that the efforts that we have collectively made, with heavy costs for companies, workers and citizens as a whole and for the State, are not disrupted ”.

On the part of the Confederation of Tourism of Portugal (CTP), President Francisco Calheiros defended that the sector does not need more loans, but new measures that allow to inject capital in what is the pandemic's first economic clash. “After more than two months of this pandemic, the needs are completely different and we have to adapt them. I give two examples. In the case of the lay-off, which ends next month and apparently is manifestly insufficient, and the question of more loans. No more loans are needed, companies cannot take any more loans. Yes, capital solutions are needed”.

Francisco Calheiros defended the use of the Venture Capital Tourism Fund, support in convertible bonds, and lost-fund solutions. “For the next summer, everything has yet to be defined, and it is difficult to have these decisions in terms of accommodation, restaurants, beaches, etc. There are a number of issues that we will have to define and that depend a lot on how evolution is going, not to mention the issue of airlines and airports”, he said.

In addition to signing the declaration of commitment of the Social Concertation partners, a protocol was also signed this morning between the General Directorate of Health and the Portuguese hotel, restaurant and similar association (AHRESP) to resume the restoration activity next week .

In reply, António Costa said that on the government's part, businessmen will be able to count, “not only with permanent dialogue, but also with a very strong determination to try to take, as quickly as possible and as quickly as possible , the necessary measures to jointly overcome this crisis”. At the signing, at the National Palace of Ajuda, the prime minister took stock of the state support mobilized for the credit lines to the various sectors affected by the pandemic, in a global amount of 6.2 billion euros and which is exhausted for the most sectors.

The value of public guarantees granted to insure bank financing is five billion euros, he said. António Costa justified the delays in streamlining this support. “Loans are not distributed money, they are contracted money. It is very important for the recovery that we all have confidence in the destination of public money and the guarantee of taxpayers' money” he said. "What is to be made viable are companies that are viable, they are companies that are in crisis because they have been affected by this virus, and not exactly feeding companies that will cost taxpayers money tomorrow", defended the Prime Minister.

Image credit – Twitter handle of Prime Minister António Costa

(Marcelle Mello Rodrigues is Spl Correspondent-IOP, Lisbone, Portugal. She is a former parliamentary advisor to the President of Brazil; Worked as a lay federal judge for 18 Months at Federal Regional Court, South Brazil; Master in Law and Pol. Science, Montpellier University (France, 2018); PG in Environmental Management –Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, 2015; PG Public Law – Federal Magistrates School of Paraná-Brazil - 2007; Bachelor of Laws, Brazil, 2004. Experienced Lawyer; Born in Brazil, Now in Portugal; LinkedIn -https://bit.ly/2viF8he  Email: marcelle@mmrodrigues.com.br

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Indian Observer Post and Indian Observer Post does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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