The pressure for the return of masks grows stronger

It’s time for authorities to make a decision about whether the country should resume wearing masks, according to Mr. Marcelo.

When President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal called a press conference on Monday to announce his decision, he made it sound even odder by demanding that the Portuguese people decide between two equally undesirable alternatives.

The government only last month voted to eliminate the bulk of rules restricting mask-wearing, effectively allowing individuals to decide for themselves whether or not they should continue doing so in day-to-day situations.

The message was submerged in a sea of photographs of politicians with masks still on; experts repeating that they should be advised, and teachers demanding their students wear them. Then came reports about ‘circulating Covid infections’, which were essentially pinned on the fact that people were not wearing masks.

Now, it appears that the older age groups are less pleased than before with the relaxation of regulations.

According to a recent poll conducted by Aximage, “over half of the Portuguese populace are opposed to the mask’s ultimate demise” (excluding the few exceptions remaining: health units/ old people’s homes/public transports), but broken down into age groups, this “over half” is seen as coming from individuals above 35 years.

With airlines also doing away with the need for passengers to wear masks, it would suggest the debate is passé – but clearly not yet in Portugal.

What gets ‘forgotten’ (something professionals have agreed on) is that masks must be used in conjunction with other strategies, such as strict adherence to 2m physical distance, for them to work. Because this precaution has also fallen by the wayside of usefulness, wearing masks again as suggested by Marcelo for possibly two or three weeks will end up being cosmetic. 

However, analysis of the ‘death peaks’ of 2020 shows that Covid-19 was solely to blame for both.

Covid is only accountable for two of the six mortality peaks of 2020

In a new study by the DGS, the health authority now classifies Covid as the fourth leading cause of death in 2020 (previously it was listed as the second…). Officials have acknowledged that just two of the six peaks in mortality during the epidemic’s first year were actual references to Covid-19.

The death toll for the year was 15,500 higher than the previous year’s number, but only 7% of deaths were directly linked to Covid-19 according to SIC notícias (or 6%, if one refers to prior reports).

One of the ‘six peaks in mortality’ was caused by a polar snap between January and February, according to the media station. The remaining three are still unexplained, it adds.

This may appear to be a difficult case. If you can’t figure out what else to say, it’s probably because there’s still so much unknown about the pandemic that independent news provider Página UM has taken legal measures to obtain information from the DGS/health ministry.

Meanwhile, the prime minister has also expressed concerns about a lack of coordination in policy decisions.

The discovery that elderly persons are being compelled to take boosters of their ancestors’ vaccines when it is obvious that these vaccines will not protect them adequately, raises a lot of issues. These days, most fatalities are individuals who have been vaccinated but are in their final years of life in terms of age. Of the 230 Covid fatalities last week, 179 were above 80 years. This is the age group that records the most hospitalizations too, according to SIC.

We, therefore, wait to see whether the authorities will rewrite the mask-freedom guideline that was enacted a month ago, or if monkey-pox will be used to divert people’s attention.

Today, the epidemic has spread to 74 people, all of whom are thought to be “men that have sexual intercourse with men,” the majority of whom are below 40 years. All those infected have been characterized as sound and recuperating at home in the most recent monkeypox bulletin.

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