Preventive measures suggested as cases of COVID-19 increase

According to the DGS, the spread of infections shows an “increasing trend”, with 26 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on 30 June, a figure that surpasses the peak recorded in winter (12 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) but remains lower than the peak incidence of last summer (42 cases).

“The specific mortality rate from COVID-19 corresponded to 15 deaths per million inhabitants in 14 days, higher than the maximum values ​​obtained in the previous winter and summer, 10 and 13 deaths per million inhabitants in 14 days, respectively”.

The DGS stressed that “all values” are below the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) threshold of 20 deaths per million inhabitants over 14 days.

Nearly 70% of deaths occurred in people aged 80 or older, and the region with the highest mortality rate was the Algarve, where the rate is steadily increasing.

According to the DGS, about 44% of the patients who died had no record of seasonal vaccination in the previous season, and six out of eight deceased under the age of 60 had no record of seasonal vaccination in the previous season, while according to various evidence presented, indications for the same were present.

“There is also an increasing trend in the proportion of emergency cases due to COVID-19 across all regions and age groups, and this increase is more pronounced in older age groups,” the health authority says.

Despite the current epidemiological situation having a “limited impact on the demand for health services and general mortality”, the DGS has stressed “the importance of adopting disease protection measures to help reduce transmission to third parties”, explaining that, “given the evolutionary trend associated with the coming heat period, it is possible that periods of excess mortality will be observed”.

According to the health authority, this increase coincides with an increase in the prevalence of the KP.3 sub-lineage, a descendant of the JN.1 variant, which was detected in 51.3% of samples in May, and was recently classified as a variant under surveillance by the ECDC.

“The ECDC believes it is unlikely that these new mutations are associated with an increase in the severity of infection or a reduction in vaccine efficacy against severe disease, compared with the BA.2.86 variant that has previously circulated. However, older individuals, people with underlying diseases, or individuals who have not previously been infected may develop severe symptoms if infected.”

The DGS advises people who have symptoms of respiratory infection (cough, fever, headache, difficulty breathing) to wear a mask, maintain physical distancing and avoid closed or crowded environments.

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