Portugal announces new lockdown after record-breaking surge in Covid infections

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Portugal has been plunged into a coronavirus lockdown, but a presidential election will still go ahead on January 24.

The country has witnessed a record-breaking surge in confirmed Covid-19 cases since it eased restrictions for the Christmas holiday.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said the lockdown, starting on Friday, will last at least a month.

The recent Covid-19 vaccine rollout “encouraged people to drop their guard and makes the pandemic even more dangerous,” Mr Costa said during a news conference.

During the lockdown, people must remain at home, including for work, and fines for not complying with rules such as wearing masks in the street will double, the prime minister said.

Schools are to remain open, along with companies providing essential services. Financial help will be provided for businesses that have to close, such as restaurants, cinemas and hair salons.

Health authorities reported 10,556 new confirmed cases and 156 virus-related deaths in 24 hours, which are both national records. Portugal, which began a vaccination programme in the last week of December, has officially recorded more than 8,200 deaths from coronavirus.

The upcoming presidential election is scheduled to go ahead with national travel restrictions enacted under the current state of emergency lifted for a day on January 17, when early voting will be permitted, and on the day of the election a week later.

Incumbent candidate Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who is widely expected to win a second five-year term as Portugal’s head of state, has returned to work after two negative tests followed a positive test on Monday.



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