The Portuguese government extended an ongoing ban on all international flights outside of the European Union (EU) for an additional 30 days on Saturday, April 18, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). EU Associated states, including Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, as well as the UK, US, Venezuela, Canada, and South Africa, are exempted from the ban. Repatriation flights for Portuguese nationals and residents will also continue to operate.
A border closure with Spain, which has been in place since Monday, March 16, will continue through Friday, May 15. Cross border workers and goods traffic are allowed to travel across the border. Flights between the two countries will also remain suspended through May 15.
Additionally, nationwide lockdown measures remain in place amid the current national state of emergency until Saturday, May 2. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa declared the initial 15-day state of emergency on March 18. All nonessential movement of people and vehicle is prohibited and vehicles; essential services will remain open.
The government has announced that it is working to make protective gear widely available. Health authorities reportedly stated they were considering making the use of masks obligatory in closed public spaces. According to reports, the local authorities of the Portimão municipality and Madiera Islands are looking to distribute 250,000 masks to their populations. The regional government of Madeira has made it mandatory for all individuals to wear a mask from Wednesday, April 22, and has resumed manufacturing and construction activities on Monday, April 20.
To date, there at least 20,206 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Portugal and 714 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the disease is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.