Portugal looks to impose fresh lockdown as covid-19 infections skyrocket

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Portugal will decide next week on potential tougher restrictions that could amount to a new lockdown if a worrying surge in coronavirus infections continues, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Thursday.

“If the very likely evolution (of the pandemic) is confirmed next week, we will have to adopt more restrictive measures as it has happened in other European nations,” Costa told reporters after a government meeting.

“General confinement measures could be adopted.”

The daily tally of COVID-19 cases in the nation of around 10 million people hit a record 10,027 on Wednesday, putting increasing pressure on the health system.

On Thursday, the number of new infections dropped to 9,927, the second-highest daily case total since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total tally to 446,606. More than 7,000 people have died.

Many experts have blamed the surge in cases on the government’s decision to ease restrictions around Christmas.

Costa said he would wait until a meeting with health experts on Tuesday to make a final decision but said new restrictions could resemble March’s lockdown, which forced all non-essential businesses to close and most people to stay at home for six weeks, although schools would remain open this.