Portugal’s COVID surge: Record cases, deaths raise alarm

As little as nine months ago, Portugal was considered a model of success in the battle against COVID-19, particularly in comparison to neighbouring Spain.

But in early 2021, with the country’s rate of new cases reaching the highest in the world in proportion to its population last week, and ambulances queueing outside Lisbon hospitals as its health service buckles under the strain, it is a grimly different story.

Record death tolls from the pandemic were set each day last week, rising steadily from 152 on January 17 to 275 on January 24, while on Saturday 15,000 new cases were registered in just  24 hours.

All of this is a far cry from early last year, when Portugal was the last country in Europe to register a COVID-19 case, on March 2.Having swiftly brought in confinement measures, until May, while Spain’s contagions marked Europe-wide highs, Portugal’s total contagion figures were at times as little as 10 percent of its neighbour.

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