THE number of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in Portugal surged past 10,000 on Saturday. The country now has around 10,524 confirmed cases and 266 people have died from the disease. To contain the virus, Portugal extended its state of emergency by 15 days on Thursday. It also tightened measures to restrict movement, particularly during the Easter holiday break.
“This fight is not a 100m race; it is a long marathon,” said Portugal’s Health Minister Marta Temido. He urged citizens “to step up their fight against the outbreak as there was still no light at the end of the tunnel”.
Temido said he expected the outbreak to plateau at the end of May. “This is the time to balance fear and courage, courage to stay home, to continue helping others, to ask for help when we need it,” he added.
Portugal’s government data also reveals that more than half a million Portuguese workers are at risk of being temporarily laid off due to the outbreak. In a statement on Saturday, the Labour Ministry revealed that 31,914 Portuguese businesses had already applied for permission to lay off their workers since new measures, that allow companies to temporarily suspend jobs or reduce working hours, were introduced a week ago. The measures, however, do not allow employers to fire or make staff permanently redundant.
Most of these layoff requests were made by firms in the hospitality industry, manufacturing sector and auto repair businesses, confirmed the ministry.