Portugal's president asks parliament to extend COVID-19 emergency

By Catarina Demony
·2-min read
Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa calls state of emergency over coronavirus crisis in Lisbon
Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa calls state of emergency over coronavirus crisis in Lisbon

By Catarina Demony

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's president asked parliament on Thursday to back an extension of a state of emergency imposed to fight the coronavirus for an additional 15 days from next week as the number of new daily infections reached a record high.

The nationwide state of emergency, which came into force on Nov. 9, includes a night-time curfew and a half-day lockdown on weekend days across 191 of Portugal's 308 municipalities.

It is due to expire on Nov. 23 but lawmakers are likely to approve the request by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa for an extension on Friday.

Under Portuguese law, the state of emergency is limited to 15 days but can be extended indefinitely in 15-day periods.

If given the green light the state of emergency would be in place until Dec. 8, according to a statement shared on the president's website.

"Prevention is essential and begins with each one of us," Rebelo de Sousa told reporters after meeting health experts, adding it was now important to adjust measures to address the level of risk in each of the country's municipalities.

A tiered system of coronavirus restrictions is on the table but the government said earlier on Thursday it would only announce new measures on Saturday.

Portugal, with around 10 million people, has recorded 243,009 coronavirus infections and 3,701 deaths, relatively low figures compared to some European countries, but cases have been rising and are putting the health system under pressure.

Confirmed new infections hit 6,994 on Thursday, the highest daily figure since the pandemic started, with most of the cases concentrated across the country's northern region. Testing has also increased.

A total of 3,017 COVID-19 patients are now in hospital, with 458 in intensive care units - more than the first wave peak of 271 in April.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony; Additional reporting by Patricia Vicente Rua; Editing by Gareth Jones, Kirsten Donovan)