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Restrictions remain into next month // Volcano, earthquake threat prompts São Jorge evacuations
Portuguese news in English on March 26, 2022
By the numbers
There are fewer cases and people in intensive care but more hospitalisations overall and more deaths. That’s the coronavirus summary of the week to March 21 in Portugal, Lusa reports. In total, there were 137 COVID-19 deaths (up 13), 1164 people in hospital on Monday (up 24), 64 people in intensive care (down two) and 75,276 confirmed cases (down 3189). The largest number of cases were in the 40-49 years age group.
Restrictions remain until at least April 18
The country will stay in a state of alert — below emergency and calamity — until at least April 18 due to the coronavirus, Público reports. The government says current pandemic restrictions remain unchanged, including the mandatory wearing of masks in indoor spaces, medical facilities and public transport. It had been hoped those measures could have been dropped at the start of April. Various experts told Público part of the reason for the extension was a slight increase in COVID-19 deaths, following weeks of falling mortality. Óscar Felgueiras said the situation couldn’t be considered alarming and pointed to Carnaval celebrations as a likely cause. A surge in cases among young people took several weeks to reach older age groups and start killing the more vulnerable, he said.
Volcano and earthquake threat prompts São Jorge evacuations
The Azorean island of São Jorge is facing a possible seismic volcanic crisis, prompting residents to evacuate amid the threat of a major earthquake or eruption, Público reports. Since Saturday, more than 2000 tremors have hit the island, more than 150 of those felt by the population. The regional government of the Azores has recommended everyone with reduced mobility to evacuate the most dangerous area, a 15km zone stretching from the centre of Velas to Fajã das Almas. Velas is the most populated of the two municipalities on the island, with about 5000 residents. The Azores' seismo-volcanic surveillance centre, CIVISA, has upgraded the island to level four, the highest volcanic alert level. The island’s airport and port have been busier than usual, packed with people farewelling friends or loved ones on the way to safety on nearby islands or mainland Portugal.
Portugal free for more time than it was under dictatorship
Portugal has passed an enormous milestone: more days spent in democracy than under the dictatorship. Yes, finally, almost 48 years after 25 de Abril, (the Carnation Revolution) the country on Thursday marked 17,500 days of freedom, after 17,499 under the dictatorship mostly led by António de Oliveira Salazar. Público has published a series of super interesting graphs showing the radical differences from 1926 until now, including a jump in life expectancy from the high 30s to the low 80s, child mortality falling from 150/1000 to less than three and illiteracy levels falling from two-thirds of the population to about 5%.
PM names new ministers in gender-equal government leadership
The milestone came a day after Prime Minister António Costa appointed the ministers in his new majority government, handing positions to nine men and nine women and reinforcing the power of his right-hand woman, Mariana Vieira da Silva, Diário de Notícias reports. She remains Minister of State for the Presidency but will also take control of the multibillion-dollar Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), more commonly referred to as the “bazooka” of European funding. The first tranche of PRR funding was approved in Brussels on Friday, freeing up hundreds of millions for school computers and energy efficiency, Público reports. Mr Costa will himself take charge of Digitalisation and Administrative Modernisation and European Affairs. Former Lisbon mayor Fernando Medina, who lost the recent local elections, will become Finance Minister.
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Infamous Portuguese Nazi to be blocked from fighting in Ukraine foreign legion. “We don’t want this type of person in our country,” a Ukraine military attaché said, insisting fighters with a criminal record would not be accepted. Former Skinhead leader Mario Machado was previously sentenced to more than 10 years’ jail for various offences, including racial discrimination and being part of a group that beat six black people in Bairro Alto. (Diário de Notícias)
The Sahara Desert dust is back. Meteorologist Maria João said Friday would be the worst day — but still nowhere near as severe as last week — before it disappears on Saturday. (CNN Portugal)
Daylight saving time starts this Sunday. Clocks jump forward one hour at 1am on Sunday. EU discussions about eradicating the change are on hold and change dates are currently set through to 2026. (Público)
Members of Lapsus$ hacking group that attacked Imprensa publishing group and Vodafone Portugal detained in UK. Seven members have been arrested and a 16-year-old from Oxford is accused of being one of the group’s leaders and amassing a £10.6 million (€12.7 million) fortune through hacking. (Diário de Notícias) (Original BBC report in English)
On a lighter note
If you’re looking for an excuse to get away for the weekend and check out a new part of Portugal, this might be it. Flutuar (Float) the Coruche International Ballooning Festival is returning next weekend to the Ribatejo region, just outside of Lisbon, for its fifth edition, Time Out reports. As well as normal balloon flights, it will feature the “largest commercially flying hot air balloon in the world”, with capacity for up to 34 people. There’ll also be balloon baptisms, air bungee and a bunch of entertainment on the ground such as music, dancing and an arts and crafts market focusing on local gastronomy. It runs from April 1–3 in, you guessed it, Coruche.
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